You can tell that spring is here because of the bright colours sprouting from front gardens.

Some are red, some are yellow and some are blue. The political placards are up as the council elections approach.

There will be plenty of attention paid to the results of Thursday’s poll, at least by politicians and political junkies like me. The vote share for the main parties will be interpreted as a sign of how well or badly Theresa May, Jeremy Corbyn and Vince Cable are doing their jobs - and what their chances are of retaining them.

It should be a good night’s TV But I don’t know how much you can really read into them. The turnout at local elections rarely gets above 40 per cent, far lower than turnout at general elections, so can’t be considered much of a guide to what will happen at the next one.

Most people don’t bother to vote. The two elections for Cumbria’s police and crime commissioners resulted in even lower turnouts. I was one of the handful of people who did vote, and both times the attendant in my polling station seemed delighted to see someone.

It’s important to vote because it’s a right we should never take for granted. Some people would give their eye-teeth to be able to get rid of their rulers without bloodshed.

Others have given their lives for it. World War Two was a war between democracy and dictatorship. To say that you can’t be bothered to vote is lazy, and to say all politicians are the same is not very observant. Both attitudes are disrespectful to the memory of people who died.

However there are some circumstances under which I wouldn’t vote. I used to live in Scotland but if I’d been there in September 2014 I probably wouldn’t have voted in the independence referendum.

I wouldn’t feel entitled to. It’s not for a non-Scot to tell Scottish people what to do. It’s their country.

Similarly, if I lived in the Republic of Ireland I’m not sure if I should vote in its upcoming referendum on abortion. It’s an issue that affects women so maybe men shouldn’t have a say on it.

But it doesn’t mean they can’t have an opinion.

On May 25 voters are being asked if they want to do away with part of the country’s constitution – known as the eighth amendment – which gives unborn foetuses and pregnant women an equal right to life.

You can argue whether the life of a pregnant woman is worth more than the life of an embryo or foetus. You can ask whether a woman whose pregnancy is the result of rape, or whose foetus has an abnormality that means it is certain to die shortly after birth, should have to go through with it.

Certainly some people are very firmly anti-abortion. The problem is that banning it doesn’t mean it won’t happen. Termination rates are roughly equal in countries with and without legal abortion.

The difference is that where it’s illegal, unsafe, DIY methods of abortion are used - killing 47,000 women a year worldwide.

The crazy situation in Ireland is that about 12 women travel to the UK for abortions every day.

To my mind that is the strongest argument in favour of it. It’s going to happen anyway, whether the anti-abortionists like it or not. It may as well be done safely under medical supervision in Irish hospitals, instead of being exported - or leaving women who can’t travel risking their lives with the crude “backstreet” abortions.

And lifting the ban on abortion doesn’t mean abortions suddenly become compulsory.

I’ve heard women say that they could never bring themselves to have an abortion but don’t think abortion should be banned. Being “pro-choice” also means having the choice not to have one. Being “pro-life” closes all options.

Some of the pro-life campaigning has been less than honest. The “Save the Eighth” billboard campaign features an abortion nurse talking about the horrors he has witnessed. The trouble is his comments are fabricated.

The pro-lifers are also claiming that abortion leads to depression and even suicide. It is not true. Relief, not depression, is the overwhelming emotion.

Another claim is that an abortion could cause cancer or damage fertility. Medical bodies such as the World Health Organisation say that’s rubbish.

Some people’s opinion is that abortion is always wrong in all circumstances. Everyone is entitled to their own opinion.

What they’re not entitled to are their own facts.