It’s local election day and I can confidently predict that tomorrow’s papers will be bemoaning the low turnout and wringing their hands over voter apathy, but I think they will have got it the wrong way round. It isn’t voter apathy that’s the problem, but candidate apathy.
In the weeks leading up to the election, I have not had a single knock on the door, a leaflet or even car plus megaphone drive by screaming “Vote for Me!” The only political message to come through the letterbox was the usual “look at us, we’re warm and cuddly” Lib-Dem newsletter.
The area where I live is pretty solidly Lib-Dem and has been since they took the parliamentary seat from the Conservatives in 1992, and therein lies the problem. The Tories limped in in second place at the last general election 8,000 votes adrift while Labour finished a poor third, so they just don’t bother canvassing while the Lib-Dems take our votes for granted and can’t be arsed to meet the people who actually put their crosses on the ballot paper.
All very depressing and a sad indictment on the state of British politics, but particularly local politics. When I was younger, you knew who your councillors were and where they lived. They were part of the community and if you had a problem, you just knocked on their door. Today I wouldn’t recognise my councillor if I ran into him (or her) in the street.
So here’s my challenge to any future prospective local candidates — come and knock on my door and ask me nicely for my vote and it’s yours. And I won’t even bother to ask what party you represent.