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Elections – do your candidates want you to vote for them?

simon gray 2010-04-29, 11:27:36
Read this article aloud — 468 words

Over here in Ladywood, if it wasn’t for the televised party leaders’ debates, we wouldn’t actually know there’s an election going on. Barely any posters can be seen (I’ve seen just two, in the same site on Summer Row), there have been no cars driving around with megaphones, few of us have had any leaflets dropped through our letter boxes, and apart from one event organised before the campaign kicked off that was just for residents of one tower block, there don’t seem to have been any elections hustings organised – or at least, none that we’ve been made aware of.

This does seem strange – in terms of the General Election, by all accounts with the retirement of Clare Short it could go either of two ways between Labour and Liberal Democrat, and even the local Conservatives think they’re in with a fighting chance. So you would think all of the candidates would be bending over backwards to try and persuade us to vote for them?

You might reasonably ask, if the candidates – both local and general – can’t be bothered to come to us and campaign to us, why should we be bother to turn out to vote for them? There was one occasion recently where the control of a whole council changed on the basis of the flip of a coin – the two main parties in the council had an equal number of councilors, and the last ward to be decided had the two main contenders with an equal number of votes, so the tie was resolved by a coin. I’ll bet there were a number of people the next day who were regretting staying away from the polling station.

Certainly, I would always recommend people attend the polling station on election day – as is often pointed out, the right to vote was a hard won right, and those campaigners’ memories deserve respect.

But equally, the right not to vote, or the right to attend the polling station and spoil one’s ballot paper choosing nobody, is also an important right – to be forced to attend a polling station and make a choice between nobody who seems to represent your views particularly well is as much an insult to democracy as to have no vote.

At the end of the day, political candidates don’t have a right to our vote – they must earn it. If they can’t be bothered fighting for it, they don’t deserve it.

#council #politics

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