If you live in the UK you must have been living under a stone if you haven’t noticed that there’s going to be a General Election in May this year. Here we are just a week in to 2015 and already all the political parties seem to be setting off in full election mode determined to get our votes in what is possibly going to be one of the closest run elections that we’ve had for many years.
The mainstream media is obviously already starting to get excited about this, but it may seem a bit early to start blogging about it, apart from the fact that in my ward in St Albans we’re actually off to the polls somewhat sooner than May as we have a Council by-election later this month. Both of the Councillors for Marshalswick South have resigned, one of them only 40 days after being elected to office!
So, what’s going on?
The answer it seems is simple – personal political ambition. Both these ladies have resigned to stand as MPs for the Conservatives in this year’s general election. One just over the county border in Cambridgeshire (although depending which online newspaper you read she may or may not have been dropped as their candidate already) and the second for a consistency over 200 miles away in Lancashire. It seems that in both cases their own political ambitions are far more important to them than keeping any promises that they’ve made to their local constituents.
To be honest the whole situation leave me furious and clearly demonstrates the problem with politics today. So many people in politics seem to be obsessed with the idea of becoming a politician rather than actually being there to represent people and to work for their local community. MPs sit in Westminster to represent their constituency, yet there are MPs, and those standing for election as MPs, who don’t actually have anything to do with the constituency at all before they stood for office. Instead they are prepared to move around the country in their attempts to gain power. But how is this helping the people that they want to vote for them?
Here in St Albans our MP doesn’t live in the city at all, and even got caught up in the whole expenses mess when it was (allegedly) disclosed that her daughter was living in the flat that she claimed expenses for instead of her. OK, so she lives a commutable distance away from both St Albans and Westminster and doesn’t actually need a city home to do her job, but how on earth can she represent us fully if she’s not living or working here to experience what life is really like? How are constituents supposed to relate to and trust a politician who doesn’t understand or relate to them.
It seems that if you get a party politician that is any good (and who has political aspirations) then they are removed from their local community to stand for a seat that the party wants to gain elsewhere. How is that the best thing for the public? And how would it ever give a community any confidence in that political party?
I’m not sure I understand how local politics and national politics can sit hand in hand. It may well be that a local candidate (whether for Council or Parliament) is the best for the job in terms of what is right for that Ward or Constituency, but that doesn’t mean that they represent the political party that you would want to support at national level. They may stand for a party whose manifesto you disagree with in some way, but should you still vote for them if they would actually do the best job of representing you and your community at Council or national level? Is it possible to have a political party where you agree with everything they say in their manifesto? Should we actually have two votes – one for who we want as our MP and a second for which politician party we want in power? Is the political system in the UK just broken?
I’m off to go and quiz some local candidates about their political aspirations…