Its that time again. Local election time. In the past month I have had one leaflet from one candidate. He was 99.99% about to get my vote until I saw in the paper that his entry may be deemed illegal and he may be disqualified. I’m going to send this to the Baaaarnlsey Chronicle (in’t’ tarn) .
I have recently settled in this beautiful region, most notably Brierley, and I originally hail from Liverpool. Being new to the area I am slightly ignorant of the local politics and issues that are at the forefront of longer term residents concerns. Never the less I buy copies of the Barnsley Chronicle, Hemsworth & South Elmsall Express and South Yorkshire Times weekly and digest the local news and issues. As you are no doubt aware, 3rd May is local election day. Across the region I am noticing houses bedecked in garlands and banners escribed with VOTE FOR SO-AND-SO. Well, I say across the region. What I mean is about 3 houses near where I live have posters in the window encouraging me to vote for some bloke. Every day as I pass and read these signs I think to myself “Why should I?”
Why should I? I should vote, I shall vote. I will vote. Hundreds of servicemen died in the forties so that I could vote. So that I could elect a local councillor, so that I could elect a government or a committee member. I will vote. However I will not just vote. I refuse to “just Vote”. If my vote matters I believe the people that want me to vote for them should tell me why I should vote for them. Think about it. If I vote for someone purely because they tell me to, have I just voted for someone who will later vote for something against my principles as my representative? I don’t know! Why don’t I know? Because they don’t call me or visit me to enable me to ask them how they will vote on certain issues.
Ok the candidate might chuck a leaflet through my door. They might open up a supermarket and get their face onto the pages of the Chronicle, Express or Times. They might stick their nose into some local issue and say “Oh no that’s really bad!” or “Oh well it will do the area good!” depending on popular opinion. Such is the baggage that goes with being a local councillor. However what they do not seem to do is call in on the voters and say “Hello, I’m your local candidate. I am going to be running in the elections. Is there anything I can do to convince you to vote for me?”.
Ok they might. They might go to a few places. But I’ve never seen them! No! They haven’t been to my door. I don’t even know what my local candidates look like. Again, a slight untruth. I got a grainy picture of David North shoved through my letter box but nothing other than a couple of sentences on why I should vote for him.Similarly I see Alex Vodden say something about some situation or other whenever a sound bite is required by the local press. However it seems to me that Coun. Vodden would cheerfully back the construction of a 6ft concrete statue of a rabbit in the middle of the M1 if the general populace of Barnsley wanted it, regardless of how daft or impractical it would be. Unless of course giant concrete rabbits on the M1 was not a popular choice, in which case Mr/Mrs?/Ms?? Vodden would probably be totally against it. Its all about winning public approval really isn’t it. Be seen to back the popular movement but really vote the other way. That’s why they’re called secret ballots.
As far as I know, Miss (Mr? Mrs? Sir? Lord? Archduke?) Vodden, the anonymous faceless councillor, would vote for free cheese for mice and yet I might be against free dairy products for rodents. I don’t know if he/she/it would vote for free rodent consumables because I haven’t had the opportunity to ask him/her/it/them. Likewise, the other prospective candidates. Who are they? Are there any? Is Dave North really Alex Vodden in a different tie? I don’t know! Why? Because I don’t know who any of these people are!
So I do some research. I check on the internet during my lunch break and yes, indeed, I find that it is Mr Vodden. He has a website. His picture makes him look like Exeter from “This Island Earth”, he looks good in a Father Christmas costume. I learn also that it is his house bedecked in VOTE FOR ME posters. But what about what he stands for? Where on his website does it tell me, the voter, what his opinion is on local issues. I see, however, he has more pies on his fingers than Little Jack Horner. He wears many different hats in society (including a nice red one at Christmas). What his website doesn’t tell me is how would he vote if there was to be a 6ft concrete rabbit statue built in the M1? What if Tesco want to build a mega-supermarket on stilts over Lundwood? What has he done to combat anti-social behaviour and other social issues? His website doesn’t say. I’d email him and ask him but I find the “form submit” script on his website doesn’t work. Then I stop myself, I say out loud, “Hang on a minute….this is MY VOTE”. Surely it is HE who should be doing all this leg work. Not me. Not me wasting my time looking online at websites. It should be the candidates coming to me not the other way round. They should be honoured to do work on my behalf. Not me honoured to have them work for me. After all, it is they that want to be my elected representitive. Besides, if they sat around expecting people to give them a job, they’d be unemployed for a very long time. Likewise if they just sit around chucking the odd soundbite in the direction of the general press they can hardly expect people to vote for them based purely on a couple of sentences.
No. The candidates, two of whom I note live OUTSIDE the Barnsley area, need to work hard. Especially if they want my vote. I offer an open invitation to all the prospective local candidates to arrange a time to call at my door or canvas me in the street, pub or corner shop and convince me to vote for them. I’ll even throw in a cup of tea. Well..not literally. Someone might get burnt. I want to vote. I have a lovely vote. It’s a very pretty vote. It is here for anyone who wants it. All I ask is that you tell me why I should vote for you and tell me how you would vote should certain key issues arise. I won’t hold my breath. I might suffocate. Unless of course I was swimming underwater. In which case I would hold my breath else I might drown.