Wednesday, April 18, 2007

What's It All About?

One of our younger readers wonders what the point of local democracy is for someone like him? He writes:

"I am writing to tell you that I am 21 and have not a clue about how the local elections in May would affect me individually; due to the fact I have no idea about the local policies or action plans of any of the parties (other than the universal agenda to cut crime, improve education and save the environment... which doesn't help when trying to choose one party over another). I have heard nothing in terms of any clear marketing as to any policy that would help me better understand what is going on and the website of the Lib Dems seems to have last been updated in 2005.

I find it a no surprise that voting from younger people is so low, and thought it necessary to highlight the difficulties I am having in finding any information!"

Would any of our sitting Councillors care to offer any advice?


Anonymous said...

Just for the record - I emailed this to several parties as well, so hopefully I should be able to share any responses I receive.

DrMoores said...

A fundamental difference between the two major parties lies in whether you think big government and public sector is good (in the massively bureacratic European form) or whether you believe, that a more flexible, less tightly controlling central authority, is better for the country.

I could go on...!

But it starts the ball rolling

Cllr David Green said...

Difficult to summarize in a few words but if I had to I would compare the priorities of the last four years of a Tory administration with that of the previous four which was Labour.
Labour's priorities were improving the social housing stock and jobs, which led to Thanet's Housing Stock meeeting decent homes standards and to the creation of the Business Parks, support for the Airport and Port Ramsgate, the University Campus and Innovation Centre and the creation of Westwood Shopping Centre.
The Tories have dismantled most of the economic development and Tourism activities,though they have supported the ongoing initiatives. They have instead concentrated on their priorities of creating a more focussed, target driven workforce and improving the refuse collection and street cleaning service. They have also prioritised leisure events in all the major towns. They have continued and indeed invested in the major regeneration activities in Cliftonville.
Both administrations have suffered from neglect of the area by KCC, who are at last beginning to pick up their share of the burden.

James Maskell said...

Simon makes a good point. Its hard to say what the differences are without making it seem as if we are stereotyping the main political parties.

Come along to the Full Council meeting tomorrow (Thursday) evening. 7pm start. You will see a lot of local politicians and you might get a feel for which group you agree with more. Speak to a couple of them about what they think of local politics

I suggest you ignore the parties and vote for the candidates individually. The election literature you must have received by now should have profiles of each of the candidates. Who do you feel you can trust? The political stands of the parties themselves should really be a secondary worry. A lot of what is said in terms of manifesto commitments at national level is incomprehensible anyway...

But no matter what, go out and vote on May 3rd. Democracy is worthless if people dont use their vote.

chris wells said...

James has a point, but I am not sure if attending council meetings shows us all in the best light. Certainly find out which ward you live in and find out who your various competing representatives are - and contact them. If you tell any of us the road you live in then we could advise you. Dont give out a full address you will be deluged! Otherwise look at the TDC website to find out.

Then ask for information and assess it according to your own priorities. If you see and hear nothing of interest to you, ask questions about why, and what should be added to our appeal.

Generally, the major party divide is about greater or lesser involvement by government at all levels in your life. At heart labour believe they can spend your money more wisely than you can, but have over the last decade adopted many conservative stances to get elected. Conservatives tend to believe lower taxes and less government is better, and that the more decisions about your money you make for yourself the better, but have made some moves to share economic growth with public service expansion in recent years, in order to get elected. Writing this I can see why you may be confused.

Listen to all that comes to your door; go out and find information on anything that does not. Ask questions and listen to the answers, for honesty, openness, and crucially, a willingness to admit what one does not know, and a promise to find out carried through.

Then you will be better prepared than most to make a decision on more than party label and dogma. You could be one of Thanets first thinking voters - how about that!

Please feel free to contact me directly via the contact details on both TDC and KCC websites. I promise you a single conversation not a torrent of information!

stuart said...

Use your vote to get rid of our current Conservative administration. Just look at the mess around you... Dreamland, Margate High St (including M&S building) Theatre Royal, Westwood Development, Arlington House & Arcade - the list is endless.

It's most definately time for change.

DrMoores said...

The last comment is a perfect example of why your vote is valuable and should not be wasted.

There is no magic wand and local government needs both sensible strategy and policy. However just saying "look at the mess" doesn't necessarily mean that a change in local government would suddenly revitalise Margate, wipe Westwood from the face of the earth and so on.

I think you will find that Stuart has no answers for you other that he loathes Conservatism!

Mr Friday said...

Another piece of advice is not to base your voting decision on national political issues alone.

I vote a particularly way nationally but will vote for any local candidate/party who genuinely represents and speaks on behalf of their constituents rather than slavishly following the party line.

earwigger said...

There is a certain Westgate councillor seeking re- election that is spreading the word that an Independent vote is a wasted vote,which is not surprising as the Tories have identified where their challenge is comimg from but lets be clear on this;Only an Independent will raise the issues and ask the questions that the party politicians wont as they are controlled by their party whips.True representation can never be found in party politics other than that by those who have no party interest, it's called accountability to those of whom have placed their trust and forthwith have EARWIGGERgiven their vote.

DrMoores said...

Not really the place to introduce a slanging match. This has been dealt with in a much earlier thread.

Better perhaps to write that an independent vote is just that and like the Blackadder sketch below, it reflects well on democracy. However, the reality in British politics is that it is influenced heavily by two parties. Reasonable probability suggests that this will be so after the local election and so an independent councillor is likely to be constrained in the wider influence he or she can bring to bear on the direction of policy in Thanet.

Anonymous said...

The website for the North Thanet Conservative Association is no better (your correspondent's initial point). It has nothing on it at all apart from a link to the local MP's site.

Anonymous said...

The problem with Independent Councillors is that they are usually disaffected Tories. I could post a long list here of Tories who have stood down only to reappear as 'Independents'. Also of course as soon as they get elected they from themselves into a Group and elect a Leader therby forming a Political Party.

Cllr Mike Harrison.

Michael Child said...

One of Ramsgate’s longstanding and highly respected members of the Conservative party, who has done a lot for the town over the years was in the shop today, we discussed various local issues including Pleasurama and The Theatre Royal. He is a man who hasn’t taken to computers at all, so I print him off some of the information that he would otherwise not see. Today most especially the list of candidates, whereas in the past this and much more information about the forthcoming election would have been posted all round the town, there is just nothing.

He said, “I am voting for the Ramsgate first candidate, the Labour candidate who has done quite a bit for my ward, I won’t vote for the current shower and I have told them so.” I asked him if he wanted me to publish his comments into the current debate and he said, “yes please.”

I have done it this way as while I wish to preserve his anonymity I know I can pass his name on to both Simon Moores and David Green, on whose blogs I am posting this, in confidence should they wish to substantiate his authenticity.

Personally I will be voting for the candidates who I think are the most able individuals, always and in all elections, I always have. But frankly following the good advice of others is not what the candidates are there to do, they are there to represent the electorate.

earwigger said...

Disaffected tories that stand down and reappear as independents are no different to those that take the votes of labour supporters in Ramsgate and cross the floor to join the Tories as Cllr Gregory did,perhaps just one reason why Ramsgate first should do well-I wish them them the best of luck.