Scotland’s non-voters: has Brexit created a public disenchantment with politics?


By Harris Cumming

As Thursday’s controversial General Election looms ever closer, it would appear not everyone is as politically invested as one might expect. 

An alarming number of South Ayrshire residents have expressed that they won’t be visiting their local polling station on 12 December, after revealing a discontent with the current turbulent political situation.

21-year-old Ayrshire art student, Kara Linning, doesn’t believe that any political party offers a valid solution to the broken state of UK politics.

She said: “I just don’t feel it’s going to make any difference. After all this nonsense with Brexit, we voted to come out ages ago and nothing has come of it so far. It is all a bit of a shambles really. I wouldn’t know who to vote for either, they are all as bad as each other in my opinion”.

However, the British public’s apparent apathy for the impending election seems not to be limited to students exclusively. UWS Chef, Alex Proctor will not be voting on Thursday either.

He said: “Both governments have made an arse of it in the past and they can’t actually decide what is what. Brexit has just made it worse, they keep lying and there’s no trust.”

For some, the decision to abstain has less of a disgruntled foundation and is simply a result of being disinterested in politics more generally.

SRUC worker, Lewis Provan, argues that the reason he is not voting is because politics isn’t something which he feels engaged in.

He added: “I just don’t really have an interest in politics or what’s going on with it.”

Political experts argue that there are a plethora of reasons behind this growing disillusionment with British politics and that the trend has the potential to be very damaging to the country as a whole.

Lecturer in Politics at the University of Aberdeen, Dr Malcolm Harvey states that among a number of other contributing factors, the fact that many people have already got into non-voting habits before they even reach the age of 18, is part of the issue.

In addition to this, Harvey also argues that the sole focus on Brexit, which many parties seem to have adopted is putting the public off voting.

Speaking about the dangers of a poor voter turnout, he said: “Democracy starts to feel illegitimate if limited numbers of people actually participate in the political process”.

Dr Lynn Bennie, reader in politics at the University of Aberdeen, believes that dwindling voter numbers is a historic problem in the UK, and one which has been reignited following the Brexit debacle.

She said: “There has been a long term decline in the number of people who feel a sense of duty to vote. This decline has occurred over a number of decades.  This means people vote more intermittently. However, we still expect people to turn out when an election is seen as important.”

Adding that:  “The problem now is that many voters are hacked off with Brexit – they are either fed up with an inability to make it happen, or they don’t want it to happen! How this will pan out on Thursday is very hard to judge. In Scotland, the question of Indyref2 adds another layer of uncertainty.  Finally, the weather and time of year will not help when combined with widespread disillusionment.”






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