ELECTION, WHAT ELECTION?A letter to the Times that struck a chord - "Shhh. Whatever you do, don't mention the local elections":
Sir, I hope I’m not breaking a secret by telling you that there are local council elections this Thursday. There has been no hustings, no leafleting at local stations, no campaigning and no posters. These elections are discussed on television and in the press, but nothing is happening on the ground. It seems they exist for politicians and commentators, with just a bit-part for the local electorate.Quite. I've had a glossy pamphlet from the council outlining the parties that are standing and the usual gumph from the LibDems about how whatever the local Labour councillor says about speed bumps is wrong, but not a peep from the boys in red or blue.
The area of London I live in has traditionallly voted Labour so the Tories don't stand a chance, yet after the events of last week I wouldn't discount the possibility of the LibDems doing rather well in tomorrow's local election. I can understand the Tories not bothering to send anyone out, but Labour sitting on its hands? They either know something I don't and are focussing their efforts elsewhere, or they're being particularly slack.
This silent election raises a number of concerns. First, how can the results of the election be worth anything when the electorate has had no information on which to base its vote? Secondly, how can anyone criticise non-voters when they are given nothing to engage with, and the contestants seem equally apathetic or smug about the election? Finally, with party political funding in the news, I wonder where the parties’ money goes when a local election is judged not worth the expenditure?Well Mr Corbett, it's not just Bromley. I've seen lots of council-funded adverts telling me that my vote is really important but had just the one political pamphlet land on my doormat. If Labour loses in my ward, they'll have noone to blame but themselves.
It may be that Bromley is overlooked by the democratic process and other areas are hotbeds of electoral activity. Lucky them — I just want an election leaflet and something to vote for or against. It’s a local election, and I was hoping to base my vote on something other than Charles Clarke’s travails or David Cameron’s bicycle.
UPDATE And, as if by magic, a Labour leaflet was sitting on my doorstep when I got home last night. Better late than never.