As one Chinese pro democracy activist said: “the Chinese Communist Party is much more efficient- they count the votes even before the votes are cast so we always know the result without having to have an election.”

Nov 7, 2020 | Uncategorized

As this cartoon from The Times wittily suggests the people who most want democracy to fail are leaders who would never submit themselves to an open election against a strong opposition party.

The counting of votes in my parliamentary constituency took place in Liverpool’s city centre – in the beautiful St.George’s Hall.

This meant that the first boxes to be counted were those from the inner city – where it was always a very close contest between me and the Labour candidate.

On more than one occasion his supporters would gleefully tell me that they had it in the bag and I was going to lose.

What they failed to calculate was that in the more heavily populated neighbourhoods, whose boxes came in later, I picked up at least 50% of the votes. And in the last boxes to arrive, I piled up 20 out of every 25 votes cast – giving me my majority and a win- and the last laugh.

These could be tense and drawn out occasions and as the votes were being counted reports were flooding in of results from contests throughout the rest of the country.

Exhilaration in winning was always tempered and dampened by news of the defeat of friends and colleagues.

Yet, win or lose, what a privilege it is to live in a democratic country in which we have the right to elect or change those who govern us.

Contrast that with dictatorships the world over. Think this weekend of Burma where 2 million people from ethnic minorities have been dried the right to vote.

Before sneering at the time it takes to complete an election in the US just recall those countries where no votes are cast and none are counted or as one Chinese pro democracy activist said: “the Chinese Communist Party is so much more efficient- they count the votes even before they are cast so we always know the result without having to have an election.”

Celebrating an election win at Liverpool’s St.George’s Hall
Lord David Alton

For 18 years David Alton was a Member of the House of Commons and today he is an Independent Crossbench Life Peer in the UK House of Lords.

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