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Hobson’s Choice

April 30, 2006

No – not her from Dispatches

I’m talking about the forthcoming local elections.

The choices in my constituency are the Green Party candidate, Lid Dem, Conservative or that other bunch.

What kind of a choice is that?

Why can’t there be an independent candidate who doesn’t give a stuff about playing silly name-calling games and who just wants to do their best for local people?

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2 Comments leave one →
  1. Graham Smith permalink
    May 3, 2006 08:22

    I don’t really agree with what has been written in this post.

    IMHO Independent Councillors exploit people’s ignorance of how the Council works to their own advantage, and they are all too frequently taken advantage of by the Council’s senior officers.

    I hope most people would agree with me that the principle role of the elected member is to work together with other elected members in order to set the Council’s key priorities and ensure that officers deliver against those priorities. In other words, to provide political leadership and direction.

    To do this well requires elected members to reach a consensus on what they see the key priorities as.

    In the main, those of us who stand under one colour or another set out what we hope to achieve (and how we intend to go about it) in our manifestos. If enough candidates of one colour get elected to command a majority of votes, then that colour’s policy agenda becomes the Council’s.

    Rarely do candidates who stand as “independents” get together to produce a “manifesto for the Independent Group.” So, when you vote for an Independent candidate, you really cannot be certain what policies they will support. What you can be certain of though, is that (a) they are far more open to coercion by those senior officers who wish to persue their own policy agenda; and (b) they are far more willing to support policies of a colour you may not agree.

    Too many people waste their votes by voting for candidates who are good at criticising what may have happened under the existing regime, yet fail to put forward a realistic and positive policy agenda of their own.

    Please may I suggest that people vote for candidates of a colour whose specific policy agenda is positive and in line with the voter’s own ideas and opinions?

  2. Stan Still permalink
    May 5, 2006 20:53

    Graham

    You said “the principle role of the elected member is to work together with other elected members in order to set the Council’s key priorities and ensure that officers deliver against those priorities.” Can’t argue with that theory, but it would be nice to see it happen in practice.

    What really happens is that one party or another will come up with some short term quick fix that doesn’t cost too much and will make people feel good. No party will grasp the mettle and institute long-term plans, because of the costs and potential unpopularity of these types of projects.

    Looking nationally, I can think of examples, such as the energy policy. Perceived wisdom is that fossil fuels will dry up within a couple of generations. Knowing that this is on the cards, what are government doing about it? Apparently bugger all, except taxing the hell out of us on our use of what little fuel is left. Making hay while the sun shines.

    I see no evidence that this tax revenue is being used to develop a credible substitute to fossil fuels.

    Back to local issues. Most councils have let roads and road repairs go to the back burner, even though the vast majority of council tax payers use the roads. To restore the roads to a serviceable condition would require such a vast amount of money that council tax would go through the roof. Therefore, no party will undertake the necessary repairs, because they would be held as responsible for increases in council tax and have a belief that they would not get elected.

    In my opinion, the whole party political is a haven for corruption and cronyism and should be radically overhauled. Of course, this won’t happen, because the people in power would effectively be voting themselves out of a job!

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