Monday, May 01, 2006

Politicians at Local Elections: for once talking about Local Issues

Can you name any of your local councillors? Can you remember who you voted for at the last set of local council elections? Did you even vote?

I'm over in Gloucester this week, and the campaign literature for Thursday's local elections is coming through the letterbox.

The local Lib Dem councillor distributes a monthly newsletter (two sides of A4, black and white) to his district once a month. It talks about local issues - the local Sainsbury supermarket planning application to expand, a playground being built, the councillor's decision to support building a new church as part of community renewal in a local area despite some local opposition.

A very open and seemingly honest (ie, spin-free) description of what he's been involved with, and how he and his party view local concerns.

There's no mention of his position on the monarchy. He could be a raving republican, or a rampant royalist. No mention of whether he'll do business with the other elected parties, or whether he'll reject their right to sit in the local council chamber. It's all really rather refreshing.

Now the local Glocester Lib Dem guy does take a pop at Labour - reminding the electorate that Labour councillors canvass at election time and them disappear for the rest of the term. The folk I'm staying with confirm that this is actually the case. While they get regular communications from the Lib Dem councillor, and the Tories have recently started a newsletter, for the last few years Labour have been invisible locally - perhaps having no financial support to fund their way out of third place.

Roll on the day that Northern Ireland politics can match the example of Gloucester, allowing local councillors to campaign on local issues - and be forced to participate in local issues in local areas in order to prove their worth and garner support at the ballot box.

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