The sad state of local politics

May 2, 2008 at 10:04 am 5 comments

Well, how about a little rant for a Friday, eh?

Walking back from the polling station yesterday evening, my bf turned to me and said, ‘I didn’t realise there wasn’t a Green party candidate here.’ (I have trained him well, muahahahaha….) I scoffed and said, ‘I didn’t realise there was a Lib Dem candidate or a Labour candidate.’

Now, I’m a bit of a leftie. I don’t really ally myself with any particular party, but I general fall somewhere between what Labour should stand for and what the Lib Dems stand for. I readily admit that the kinds of changes I am looking to see in this country are waaaay beyond what any actual politician would be prepared to put in their campaign literature, but I’m pretty realistic and would be happy to be swayed by a convincing candidate, especially in the local elections: in a general election, although you aren’t really supposed to, I would tend to vote for a party and a Prime Minister, but in the local elections I would tend to vote for the candidate I felt most confident in. Overall, though, I generally believe that public services are in principle a good thing, I think we need to do more for the environment, I think the gap between the rich and the poor is too wide and I’d love to completely overhaul the education system.

So, I was looking forward to all the candidates coming around and asking me what issues were on my mind so I could grill them about their ideas for making Wokingham a more sustainable, resilient and environmentally-friendly place, about how they would follow up on the suggestions FOE gave them and if they would please stop concreting over everything and get rid of all the cars.

Now, I work from home and am usually in most evenings, so if anybody had come round canvassing, I would have known. We had leaflets shoved through the door by the Conservatives, UKIP and the BNP. Labour and the Lib Dems didn’t even bother to do that, let alone actually try and talk to me. It never even entered my mind to vote for UKIP or the BNP, and I didn’t really want to vote for the Tory candidate because a) his environmental policies were rubbish (basically: environmental issues begin and end with waste and recycling, and we couldn’t ever have alternative weekly collection, never, never, never, never) and b) all the material we’ve ever had from him has contained a big whine about how little funding the Borough gets from central government compared to….. councils where there are more poor people. Now, there is a genuine issue about how basing it on averages means the worse off in overall richer areas are even worse off than they would be in poorer areas where there was more central funding, but do they talk about this? No, it’s just ‘poor us, aren’t we hard done by, never mind that that’s how local government funding works or that the reason we don’t get as much is because we’re all well-off and don’t need it‘ – it’s like saying, ‘Oh, poor stockbrokers, they have to pay more tax than nurses and bin-men.’

So I didn’t want to vote for him either.

And so since I knew nothing about the candidates representing the two parties I might have swung between or their policies, I was damned if I was going to vote for them.

So, ladies and gentlemen, since people died so that I could have the right to vote and I did not want to dishonour them by allowing apathy to win the day, I am ashamed to say that I spoilt my ballot. I voted for all the candidates and drew a silly face at the top of the paper for good measure.


Entry filed under: politics.

Bikes, socks and the promise of nettles I knit… I garden… That’s about it….

5 Comments Add your own

  • 1. Mara  |  May 2, 2008 at 11:55 am

    Never be ashamed of spoiling your ballot paper! I have been tempted to do that more than once and if there truly was no one I wanted to vote for I would still go to the Polling Station and make some kind of mark on the paper. Shameful is not bothering to do anything.


  • 2. Lucy @ Smallest Smallholding  |  May 2, 2008 at 5:32 pm

    I have to say I wouldn’t ever spoil my ballot paper, I just try and go with the party that represents the closest to what I want. In some ways I think spoiling your ballot paper is just as bad as not voting and being apathetic.

  • 3. Hamster  |  May 6, 2008 at 12:42 pm

    Normally I’d agree with you, Lucy, and go for the party or person I felt best represented my opinions even if it wasn’t perfect. It was more the total lack of information I’d received about them that made me angry; but I was very worried that everybody who felt like I did wouldn’t have voted and the BNP guy would get in or something, so I do take your point there. Nor do I think it’s really a constructive solution in and of itself, even if I did get in touch with the candidates and the local paper to complain.

    I don’t know if I agree that it’s just as bad as not voting though – it still counts in turnout, so I’m in the figures as a person who cares enough to actually go and vote.

  • 4. Christine  |  May 7, 2008 at 6:29 am

    I made a decision not to vote at all as two of the candidates here didn’t even manage a leaflet, one sulked and stood as an independent because the party didn’t select him for the new unitary council and the other decided to find money for the local library as a sort of bribe to keep him in the post. It’s the first time for many years but there comes a time ….

  • 5. A Sea Change  |  May 7, 2008 at 7:21 am

    – it still counts in turnout, so I’m in the figures as a person who cares enough to actually go and vote.

    I agree. At least your paper was counted and you didn’t stay at home. And what do you do if there are no candidates that you would ever consider voting for?


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The Heritage Crafts Network

Rob Hopkins, Transition Handbook

“Environmentalists have often been guilty of presenting people with a mental image of the world’s least desirable holiday destination – some seedy bed and breakfast near Torquay, with nylon sheets, cold tea and soggy toast – and expecting them to get excited about the prospect of NOT going there. The logic and the psychology are all wrong.”

Barbara Kingsolver, Animal, Vegetable, Miracle

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Carlo Petrini

"A gastronome who is not also an environmentalist is an idiot. An environmentalist who is not also a gastronome is, well, sad."

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Raj Patel, at Slow Food Nation

"Biofuels, which is the preposterous policy that we should grow food not to eat it but to set it on fire."

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