Two of the rules I try to live by with elections are:
1) If you don’t bother even trying to obtain my vote – either by canvasing or something as simple as sticking a leaflet through my door – then I don’t see why I should bother voting for you, and
2) I would prefer it if those seeking election lived within the area that they wished to represent.
I realise that the latter is perhaps easier for a constituency MP wannabes than local councillor wannabes but it would be nice to see an effort being made.
On that basis I look at the list of individuals who are standing for election in my council ward on May 5th with some dismay. The five individuals standing consist of a representative from the three big parties (Conservative, Labour, Liberal Democrats) as well as one from the Green’s and an Independent. Of these, two (the Conservative – who lives about as far away from the ward as it is possible to get given that this ward is fairly central within the borough – and the Independent – the current councillor) fall foul of my second wish, whilst only the Green party candidate has so far (with seven days to go) fulfilled the first.
If I am to stick to my principles then it currently looks like the watermelon or bust. On that basis I’d better see what the Green has to say for himself in his election leaflet* on the off chance it appeals.
The first signs are not good. His slogan is “Fighting for a fair deal for people and the planet” but I have no context to go with the term ‘fair’. Does he mean the dictionary definition or that spouted by the ‘progressives’? Perhaps the rest of this leaflet will make it clear.
Next we get his biographical details, confirming he does live in the ward (nice to know), works as a lecturer (uh oh) and keeps himself occupied with an allotment, being a home brewer (this alone might make me like him) and write (a google search turns up one book on the aforementioned home brewing). The search also turns up an appearance (length unknown) in the Oz Clarke and Hugh Dennis program ‘Oz and Hugh Raise the Bar’. Add to this the fact that he is a trade union activist who manages to ‘regularly organise campaigns and represent people at work’ and he certainly comes across as a busy little beaver. I wonder how he manages to find the time to actually lecture students. Or is he a full time unionista paid for by the taxpayer? And if that isn’t enough he has also managed to produce three sprogs – something which doesn’t appear to fit with the greenie over-population agenda.
So, enough about him. What about what he stands for? Sorry, no, he seems to have forgotten to put that on this leaflet. Instead the next bullet point tells me that he believes
… that local people need a strong voice in the face of job and service cuts locally, to protect our environment as well as bringing back accountability to local politics.
Now, admittedly, I haven’t been keeping my ears to the ground regarding local politics (Julia manages this far better than I) but as a non-user of almost any service provided I don’t recall any wailing and gnashing of teeth about any ‘cruel’ cuts made by the council so I think I can assume that the locals generally think nothing too onerous is happening. As for the environment, the ward is a concrete jungle so there isn’t a lot to protect as far as I see it and as regards accountability it sounds like a nice idea but I’ll believe that when I see it. Without lots of power being returned from the centre in Westminster and until councillors become directly responsible for services rather than being stuck at arms length behind the local chief executive and their staff that statement is a pipe dream.
On the reverse of the leaflet he then proceeds to parrot what I can only assume is the official Green party line as it talks about an ‘alternative to this governments (sic) cuts agenda’, ‘bring[ing] new thinking and fresh ideas’ via their MP and MEPs and a ‘sense of urgency about the truly important things in life’ without any clarifying of these airy sounding phrases. I’m also told the position of the Green Party regarding the AV referendum.
All in all I don’t think that I’ll be bringing myself to put a cross next to this candidate next Thursday. Looks like it’ll be a spoilt ballot paper at this rate.