Today where I live there were elections for both our town and new county councils, a busy day at the booth where I had to choose 8 candidates! Politics is my guilty pleasure, I studied it at uni and follow it closely. For me its not about a political party but the processes, culture etc.. Despite this keen interest, I am exasperated about the current political system and do wonder if we are at the time in history where our party political system will implode.
I always vote in every election and say a quiet thanks to the suffragettes every time. Although, I live in an area where one party holds every seat and there is never any competition, I still gamely go along and make my choice.
Today, for the first time ever, I paused at the booth and wondered why am I doing this, I don’t feel represented. In fairness, the town council was a fairly easy choice, I know a lot of candidates and despite party politics they are all good people trying hard to improve our town.
I struggled with the next layer of government, our new council. We pay one of the highest council taxes and yet I genuinely struggle to see how it is spent to improve services in our small town. All schools have deficit budgets and our library, with its opening hours cut, is always under the threat of closure, despite it being the hub of our town and housing so many additional services. I don’t have direct experience of services for the elderly but I am sure it is a similar state too as there are always local campaigns for all services. I despair at some of the decisions made around education and key services and do feel other towns in the county benefit more than others. Ironically the most common council employee in our town is not for services but teams of traffic wardens raising revenue which is not reinvested in our town. The wardens are legendary in their ticketing and not just for obvious violations but really obscure ones you didn’t even know were illegal!
I’ve lost confidence in regional politics how do these people represent me and provide the best services to our population? And this is just at a local area, I’m not confident in our national political system either. I’m an ordinary citizen and yet feel unrepresented. I can’t help but feel that is how extreme political parties develop, preying on the politically vulnerable and isolated, polarising opinion, turning people against each other and I am fearful that this is how our country may become. We need to become more focused on solutions, serving all members of our communities and respecting differences so that when we do vote we are confident that our voice is heard.