There is an election on, have you noticed? Outside London, it is for local government. I met my candidate the other day in the street and we had a little talk, which was instructive on many fronts. Here are some of them.
Firstly, I had no idea about any of the candidates at all, or who was standing, so it was nice to find out one of the names on the ballot paper in advance. Yes, really: I have not seen a single poster for any party or candidate anywhere near where I live.
Secondly, the candidate told me that one of the three councillors in the ward, namely herself, was up for renewal, and that this was for the borough, not the county. I find all this pretty confusing – why does local government have so many tiers, and why do we have these odd one third at a time elections? Couldn’t the whole thing be made simpler?
Thirdly, the candidate told me she was a Conservative, but she immediately stressed that this was a local election and that this has nothing to do with “the Government” – from which I deduce that she fears losing her election on a wave of anti-Government feeling. No doubt she works hard, and feels that it is most unfair that she could lose her seat thanks to George, Dave and the rest of them.
(Incidentally, I saw a yellow poster for a presumably Lib Dem candidate in Cambridge the other day that made no mention whatever that he was a Lib Dem: so this local feeling afflicts both Coalition parties, it seems.)
I spoke to the candidate about my local concerns – which are mainly to do with litter and pollution; and I also told her that as a Catholic I thought it my duty to vote – and so it is. We all need to take part, and local elections, though mundane, are important. I said I would remind everyone I knew to vote on Thursday. It is generally thought that religious people are more likely to vote than non-religious people. This makes sense to me; I wonder how anti-Christians feel about that?
Funnily enough, a great friend of mine, who would I am sure like to remain anonymous, is standing for election in a borough in South Wales. He is totally aligned with the international workers’ movement and is of course standing as a Labour candidate, though he has no truck with anything connected to New Labour at all. He is, of course, a devout Catholic. I say, of course, because once upon a time the Labour party was full of devout Catholics (in certain places, such as parts of Scotland, it still is).
Moreover, there were many leading lights in Labour who were famous for their piety. One such was Bob Mellish ; and in our own day there is Michael Martin But these Labour figures seem to belong to the past now, which is a pity. The people who know no history have no future, as someone once observed. It is a great pity that the Labour Party is seemingly forgetting its past, just like the Conservatives, who do not seem very conservative at all.
If someone like Bob Mellish were up for election today, he would certainly have my vote!