Unions rounded on the Tories today after dismal turnouts ensured the nation's first elections for police and crime supremos became an undemocratic shambles.
Two polling booths in England and Wales recorded zero voters as huge swathes of the population ignored - or did not know they had - the chance to have their say in the £100 million process to pick powerful new police and crime commissioners.
Unions RMT and PCS leapt on the low numbers, saying they demolished hypocritical Tory attempts to introduce a minimum threshold for union ballots.
RMT general secretary Bob Crow said: "In light of the pitiful turnout I hope we will hear no more garbage from London Mayor Boris Johnson and other right-wing Tories about raising the bar in trade union strike ballots.
"If Tory MP Dominic Raab, Boris Johnson or any of the rest of the anti-union Tories want a public debate on their demands to interfere with trade union democracy they should contact us and have the guts to put up or shut up.
"Their policy of one law for the political class and another law for the working class is blasted wide open by the mass abstentions in these elections."
Elections expert Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University said today's vote could go down in history as the worst turnout ever.
"It will raise questions about whether this whole exercise was worth it in the first place," he said.
And PCS said the appalling exercise sounded the "death knell" for Tory-led calls for thresholds in trade union ballots.
Ballots it had called in the past were way above many recorded on Thursday, it said, despite laws brought in by a previous Tory government and left in place by Labour which meant union members are restricted to postal votes "which suppress participation."
PCS general secretary Mark Serwotka said: "Everyone wants a thriving democracy and better participation, but these low turnouts should sound the death knell for the shrill Tory-led cries for thresholds for union ballots.
"We have consistently argued for reform of union ballots so instead of trying to score political points every time we have a vote, the government should talk to us about extending outdated postal voting to the use of modern technology."
Many areas confirmed turnouts today were well below 20 per cent.
Shadow home secretary Yvette Cooper said the elections had descended into a shambles.
She said: "Time and again on the doorstep people told us either they didn't have enough information, didn't know the elections were happening, didn't support them or didn't want to go out in the dark to vote."
In the most radical shake-up of the service for half a century, the new 41 commissioners outside London - expected to earn up to £100,000 a year - will control police budgets, set priorities and have the power to hire and fire chief constables.
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