Your Local Candidates - What are they doing for YOUR area?

As you may have noticed over the last few weeks, I've been throwing up some political piss-taking pictures as blog filler, but as the election looms ever closer, it's nearly time to decide who to vote for.

It's a well used cliche to say that the televised leaders debates have re-engaged people with politics, and how their country is run; Nick Clegg has stepped out of the shadows and people actually know who he is now, David Cameron has been forced to lose some of the sheen and Gordon Brown... Well, he's, you know, Gordon Brown. All the rhetoric and soundbytes about change have been spewed across the media ad infinitum and many people are now beginning to think twice about heading along to the polling station and putting their mark next to the same party they've been voting for for years. And that's all well and good, don't get me wrong. Personally, I'd love to see a huge overhaul to the political system in this country, something that will make things more fair and balanced; I think it's a real change that's long overdue, frankly.

However, the whole "bigotgate" event of last week brought something home, something that I realised quite a while ago. It's all well and good to jump on the bandwagon and called the woman a bigot for her single comment while completely ignoring the bulk of her conversation with Brown was centred around the economy and the deficit. I mean, yeah, we can all do that, but that's ignoring the bigger picture: the "bigoted woman" approached Brown with concerns about her area, her constituency and all he did was recite the party line at her.

OK, so he's the PM, that's what he should do; he's got the entire country to oversee rather than just one little town. Fine.
But, it's happening everywhere, with every politician. I've had leaflets through the door for six local candidates, and not one of them has done anything but recite the party rhetoric.* As a potential voter, I want to know what the candidates are going to do for my area, not what the party will do for the country. Come to that, I don't even know who my candidates are (over at Angry Mob, they posted something far more insightful about that than what you'll find here). Local candidates aren't engaging with their constituents, they're not getting out there and meeting people, finding out what's important to them; all they're doing is toeing the party line.

I am, for all intents and purposes, a floating voter; I genuinely have no idea who I'm going to vote for. Of the six candidates in my area, I can easily get rid of three. Under the Labour government, I was one of the thousands that was made redundant when they introduced the unitary councils (and don't get me started on the Digital Economy Bill fiasco they pushed through parliament), so that's them out. Being from the north east, I can't bring myself to vote Conservative and watch the region get shat on again, and the BNP is obviously out because I'm not a massive racist (if I was, I'd just vote Tory). So, that leaves Liberal Democrat, Green or the independent.

As we all know, any mental case can run as an independent candidate, so maybe I'll give him a miss. After that, there's the Green Party and Liberal Democrat candidates, none of whom do anything in their literature but spout the usual party rhetoric. I'll admit, I've been tempted to vote Liberal Democrat this year, so, at the behest of a friend (and some loads of help from him), I e-mailed the local candidate, Simon Reed, asking him what he would be doing for the area. This was "his" reply**:

We have 4 key themes in this election, all based around one concept - fairness.

Fair taxes, so that you don't pay any tax on the first £10,000 of earnings, giving most people £700 back each year.

Fair start for our children in school, with £2.5billion extra for schools to reduce class sizes or provide extra tuition or catch up classes.

A rebalanced, green economy getting back to making and selling things again, not centred on the paper economy of the city of London.

A fair, decent political system, giving people the right to sack corrupt MPs, reforming Parliament and introducing a fair voting system.

We are the only party to have detailed in our manifesto how these priorities will be paid for in these difficult economic times, and the Financial Times is today saying that our tax plans are the fairest.

If you follow one of the side bars from my website you should be able to link in to the national party website or click on this link and you will find a lot more detail on our policy areas that might be of interest to you as you make up your mind on which party will get your support.

See? The party line. I wanted to know what he was going to do for the community, for the region, not what his party was going to do for the country. My constiuency, Wansbeck as it now is, is marginalised, forgotten about, and one of the most unimportant seats in the country. I understand that, but I live here (at the minute), and I want to know what any of the candidates are going to do for the area.

Is that really too much to ask?

Yes, apparently, it is. Just go and ask Gillian Duffy.

* This was characterised beautifully by the BNP leaflet. A friend who lives in Gateshead received a leaflet from them through his front door. The next day, I received a leaflet from them through my door, which was exactly the same, apart from the name and the picture of the candidate.

** I say "his" response because, looking at the bottom of the e-mail, I saw this:

Published and promoted by Andrew Tebbutt on behalf of Simon Reed

Yeah. Couldn't even be arsed to reply to one his own constituents. What a way to win a vote, eh?
Your Local Candidates - What are they doing for YOUR area? Your Local Candidates - What are they doing for YOUR area? Reviewed by Unknown on 1:29 pm Rating: 5
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