Election extra

Tomorrow is the big day when we get to vote in Local and European elections. I have already devoted three posts mainly to this subject and this, the fourth and last, is where I get to tie up some loose ends.

Reading the Echo (20/05) centre page spread with the title “Tories facing tough fight for survival”, the word on the street is that we are heading for a situation where no party will have overall control of the Council, with the political administration of the town looking like it will be entering uncharted territory, with the prospect of various deals being done for control of the Council.

Like many, I have an aversion to coalitions because the result can be a mish mash of ideas rather than clear direction, yet there are positives too, not least the prospect of hopefully people putting aside differences and working for the good of the town. One of the qualities I have learned to appreciate in our current St. Lukes councilors (two Independents and one Conservative) is there is evidence of them making this happen at ward level. I hope this idea of working together for the common good and responding robustly to resident issues will serve as a model for the rest of the town.

One of the criticisms that have been laid against local government is its lack of response to local concerns (the same might also be said at national level also). This week, two local concerned residents with good cases have recounted stories of being fobbed off by council officials. This must change. My hope, as always, is that the localism agenda which the present government tried to encourage but with little success by the Localism Act, does gather momentum and local people do have more say in what happens locally and those with the ability to respond to local concerns are made more accountable.

On Monday, the Cluny Residents Association (CRA), which I chair, held two successful events which besides having a fun and food theme had the serious intent to get more resident involvement, something people in my position know can be a challenge. In the afternoon we engaged mainly with parents with children and were helped out by my friend Salvo the clown and the nice people from Streets Ahead with children’s activities. In the evening we held our AGM. It was good to see our councilors and our two Independent candidates attending and entering into the spirit of the occasion on a non partisan basis. We wish them all well.

I have to apologise to Mr. ABC (Independent) when I said in my last post I hadn’t met him. I had but hadn’t realize it. I should put on record that he has attended our residents meetings and has made positive contributions. Also, Gray (Labour) didn’t attend but sent his apologies beforehand. He was sitting an exam! We wish him well in his exams and his future political career, realizing the need for young people to get more involved politically. I have heard nothing from the Liberal Democrats and wonder if they are not in it to win it, why they are in it at all?

In my previous “election” posts, I gave a brief analysis of how I viewed the various parties, and those views broadly still remain. My ambivalence toward any of the main parties does create a problem, especially when it comes to the European elections where it is difficult to vote just for the person. Interestingly, yesterday, I took part in one of those online quizzes that seem to be popular these days. This one was mainly to do with my attitude toward “Europe”. As a result of answering a number of questions that sought my views on several political matters, the algorithm the quiz used decided that my order of voting preference would be: UKIP, Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrat, Green, in that order.

Having followed developments in recent weeks, noting for example the extent to which Mr Farage has been demonized but also UKIP’s preoccupation, it seems, with immigration issues, I’m less inclined to vote for UKIP even though it aligns best with my euro-sceptic views and also on certain freedom and moral points. However, to focus on this one issue is pernicious and also leads me to wonder if it has well thought out policies on other issues that matter. While I like the Conservative policy of an in-out referendum and their recognition of many of my Europe concerns, I don’t trust them. I indicated in an earlier post that I was thinking of voting for the Christian People’s Alliance party, but other than producing some impressive stuff online, I find they have not put themselves and their policies about at all, and will almost certainly not gain seats. I am in a dilemma; I am undecided; but that is democracy!

From my point of view, the issue locally is somewhat easier. I have already said I am voting for Sally, who happens to be Conservative. It is not because she is Conservative but because she is Sally. Like all councilors she has weak as well as strong points, does and says things I disagree with as well as things I agree with. In my view, and I may be wrong, she is the best candidate. Whether the other St. Lukes residents think the same, remains to be seen. As many will know, my record on backing election winners is not all that good. Having found myself voted back as chair of Cluny Residents Association, I look forward to working with whoever is elected tomorrow and ensure localism is more than a mere word.

While we live in a time when respect for politicians and political parties may be at an all time low, I have come to see that many of our councilors do try to serve the people, even when we disagree. Some work especially hard, and this often goes unnoticed. Tomorrow, there will be winners and losers and, as for those have served and lose, they should be thanked. The main thing though is that we do vote and in a democracy it is beholden upon us to do so.

By way of an addendum, I would reiterate the different criteria I would use to vote in each of the local, european and national elections. The decision is not easy and while I will be voting Tory locally tomorrow and flirting with the idea of voting Tory in the European election because of the promise of an in-out referendum, I am far from satisfied with the performance of the Tories nationally, especially on the matter of righteousness (check out the “Gospel” tab why I feel this is important). In this regard the Tories have let us down big time, but would the alternatives fare any better?