Thursday, April 26, 2007

Effective democracy is not possible without knowledge

I received my postal voting form today, so decided it was time to go online and decide who would get my vote.

Its really rather liberating being a floating voter, but it does take more time to research.

Having googled candidate names from the voting form, and googled more general terms "local elections 2007", "Letchworth East Ward", "local election candidates".... you get the picture... I have discovered that as far as the internet is concerned, we aren't going to the polls on May 3rd.

The BBC got the closest to anything of any use, and if I were a resident of Scotland it would be rather useful, offering me some sort of manifesto outline. But the English local elections? Nope.

It did link to the party websites. In my ward I can only vote Labour (3 candidates), Tory (3 candidates) or Lib Dem (1 candidate) so those are the three sites I surfed.

Of the three, only the Tory site seems to acknowledge that there are elections afoot. Over-riding message from them? Vote Blue, Go Green. OK, got it. Wondered if there was any more to them on a local level? Obviously not.

Lib Dems had a handy news piece with their old dude telling me not to vote for fashion but for principles... but failed to mention what those principles were (aside from green things... which I assumed was what he meant by "fashion". Confusing.)

Labour is aparently far too focused on more important things to worry about the small issue of local democracy. No harm done, wouldn't vote for them anyway.

Which leaves me with no choice. I get three votes. From three Tories and a Lib Dem.

What is it they say about undemocratic countries? Oh yeah, whats the point voting if there is only one choice...

... I know how they feel now.

And they wonder at our apathy. I used to be really rather political. I passionately believe that (particularly as a woman) its my duty to vote when so many fought for me to have the right. You have got to wonder why they bothered sometimes.


Anonymous said...

I dunno, surely there is some duty on us as local voters to actually have some idea of what is going on in our ward? For example, maybe your local council has made it mandatory to hop everywhere on thursdays. This might offend you, or it might please you. Either way it at least gives you an idea whether to vote against the ruling party.

Still, absent being canvassed, I don't have much idea how you would get info about a local party that wasn't currently in power. There's loads of decent web resources for scrutinising MPs but I don't know of anything at a local level. It looks like politicians have a long way to go in trying to build up local democracy (which is allegedly a goal shared pretty much by all three main parties).


Emily Wearmouth said...

You are absolutely right that it is my duty to know what is going on, but I cannot know unless the information is available.

I am a commuter, so the most insight I seem to get on local issues is from cabbies.

Also they just changed the ward boundaries so there aren't really incumbents for my ward - we are working from scratch... you would have thought that alone would inspire someone who wants me to vote for them to tell me something about them.

Oh and I have to admit I got a Tory and Labour flier through the door. Naming the candidates (nothing more than is on the flipping voting paper), and telling me they all like building childrens' playgrounds. Yay. Really got the measure of my hot buttons haven't they? ;-)

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