Saturday, 2 May 2015

Local elections — the message is in the medium

Over the past couple of months there has been a steady stream of election material through our letter boxes and I have to admit to the fact that I did some delivering for the Labour Party in Beeston North and West wards until my left knee gave out (x-ray next Friday and physio a week later).

You may have noticed that most of the stuff coming through your doors has related to the general election and, somehow, all the parliamentary candidates have given local issues a lot of attention and when that happens, you know the political parties standing do not believe they can win on national issues alone.

It is the same with the European elections. The focus is always on national issues and I believe the parties use it as a kind of test bed for ideas relating to parliamentary elections.

Normally, local elections are not hi-jacked because general elections and local elections do not happen at the same time, but when the dates are the same, local elections get relegated to a distant second place and this tells you, quite clearly, that the main purpose of all political parties is to elect MPs.

In these circumstance I think the local council has a responsibility to step in and actively remind voters that there is a local election taking place and in this respect Nottingham City Council has issued this poster. I received this copy by e-mail, as I have not removed my name from the City Council's mailing list.

By way of contrast, Broxtowe Borough Council's website says little about the borough elections on 7 May and does nothing graphically on its home page to draw attention to the fact.

In my ward, Beeston North, only the Greens has so far failed to push a specifically local leaflet through my door and the Conservative's one leaflet has been one for Beeston as a whole. UKIP has managed one and it has been the most punchy to date. The Liberals have managed two, as have Labour.

I hope the Greens do manage to push a leaflet through my letterbox before Thursday. I would like to have their take on Beeston North, Beeston and Broxtowe Borough Council.

If Parliament sticks with fixed five year Parliaments, the local and general elections will not occur on the same day again until 2025 (also Nottinghamshire County Council elections, assuming it still exists) and then in 2035 when local elections and a general election will again happen on the same day.

One thing is sure and that that is the world of local politics and government is going to change. Nick Palmer is of the view that local government voting reform  may lead to some kind of proportional representation and, if he is right (and I hope he is), then the next Broxtowe Borough Council elections in 2019 will very different to what is happening now.

We shall have to wait and hope, and in the meantime try to keep local democracy alive and well in Broxtowe.

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