Every year local councillors and wannabe councillors get punished at the polls, not because they’ve been bad councillors (though some of them are) or because the policies they stand upon are bad (though some of them are) but because of national issues. In the past it has been the war in Iraq, the financial crash, austerity. This year it will be Brexit.
I understand the frustration that people have and I get the concept of giving the government a kicking. If it were giving the government a kicking I’d be all for it if it were an issue I believed they needed a kicking for. The problem is, whilst collectively you may be sending the government a message but what you are really doing is potentially punishing a hardworking local councillor or community activist for something that really isn’t anything to do with them or what they are standing for.
The purpose of this post is not to plead on behalf of Conservative or Labour candidates in this years elections – quite the opposite – I’ve written before that our faith in the old two parties isn’t doing us any good at all and it is about time we cast our electoral nets wider for better, fresher ideas and better candidates. What I want to persuade you to do is look beyond national issues and look at the people whose names appear on your ballot paper and what they stand for locally.
A local election is just that – a LOCAL election. It should be determined on local issues and you should be voting for the person who you believe will serve you best on your local council. Local councils are about emptying your bins regularly, local planning issues, local social care provision, the quality of your local roads, libraries, local school provision. At a town and parish level these powers are even more ‘mundane’ such as provision of allotments and local community facilities etc. Your local council candidate will have an opinion about Brexit, immigration, NHS provision, HS2, but they cannot do a damned thing about any of these if elected.
As a town council candidate myself this year feel free to ask me my opinion on Brexit or any other national issue, I’ll happily give it, but remember that if elected I have no power to enforce that opinion – no more than the people I am asking to vote for me. The big difference this year is that there appears an unfortunate habit of judging a person’s character on whether they support leave or remain. I know and respect many people who hold views on both sides of this particular divide, just as I know and have utter contempt for others with similar opinions. It is a sad state of affairs that one issue is so dividing our nation and turning good people against each other.
When deciding who to vote for in these local elections, focus on local issues. Don’t vote for a party, vote for a person. Don’t vote for the person just because they hold your view on Brexit, vote for the person who you believe will serve you best in your local town hall on issues like refuse collection, library provision, local planning and yes dog muck issues. Most importantly…. VOTE!