Election

Are You Registered to Vote?


It’s that time once again. On May 3rd, the polling stations across Wokingham Borough will open and there will be ballot papers waiting for your cross on them. This year there are 18 seats being contested across the borough, and there are real issues at stake.

I am not a neutral party in this, I would like to make that perfectly clear from the start. I am the Labour and Co-operative candidate for Remenham Wargrave and Ruscombe. In the coming weeks, I will be asking for the votes of residents, and explaining why they should say yes.

The democratic process, whilst not without fault, does put ultimate decision-making power in the hands of those ultimately affected by said decisions. And with residents angry at the moment over bin bags, planning decisions, libraries and a host of other complaints, the power to choose your representative has never been more important.

Any UK citizen over the age of 18, who is not incarcerated, is eligible to vote. In addition, EU citizens resident in the UK can vote in local elections, as can Commonwealth citizens who have leave to remain. But you have to be on the electoral roll.

Most people are on the electoral roll automatically, but you can check with Wokingham electoral services either

By phone: 0118 974 6522 / 0118 974 6523

By email: electoralservices@wokingham.gov.uk

Or in person: at the council offices, at Shute End, Wokingham, RG40 1WH

They’re very nice, and don’t bite. I promise. And if you aren’t register you have until 18th April 2012 to register in time to vote on May 3rd.

The reason that I’m posting this here, is because I can’t find it at all on the Wokingham website. I don’t care who you vote for, me or someone else. But people died so that we could vote, so the least you can do is turn up on the day and mark the paper. If you don’t like anyone who’s standing you can spoil your ballot- that way your vote will be recorded without you giving your support to anyone.

The important thing, though, is that you can’t use your vote if you’re not registered to

(If you’re not a resident in Wokingham borough, it is just as important that you exercise your vote. Apathy and low turnout defeat democracy. If you want to find out how to check whether you’re registered, the About My Vote website is a fantastic place to start)

Advertisements

Tin-Foil Linings


 

The Barnsley by-election results beg even more an answer to the question, "What is the point of Nick Clegg?"

This morning is wonderfully sunny in Brighton, and I think for left-wingers and Labourites across the country, the whole day will have that character.

 

I am, of course, referring to last night’s by-election victory in Barnsley, which saw the frankly impressive Dan Jarvis elected to replace the disgraced Eric Illsley. Dan’s success isn’t in any way surprising, in a safe Labour seat (though I do think Dan would have done well in any seat), but what is especially heartening is the fares of other parties. I’ll reproduce the full results below, as they’re just so damn amusing:

  • Dan Jarvis (Lab) 14,724 – 60.8%
  • Jane Collins (UKIP) 2,953 – 12.9%
  • James Hockney (C) 1,999 – 8.25%
  • Enis Dalton (BNP) 1,463 – 6.04%
  • Tony Devoy (Ind) 1,266 – 5.23%
  • Dominic Carman (LD) 1,012 – 4.18%
  • Kevin Riddiough (Eng Dem) 544
  • Howling Laud Hope (Loony) 198
  • Michael Val Davies (Ind) 60

Turnout 36.5%

(Source BBC News)

Yes, you read that correctly. 4.18% of the vote to the Liberal Democrats. Sixth place. Glorious, no?

I know it isn’t funny, that they came below the BNP, but on many levels it is. I might be worried if it wasn’t such a safe Labour seat, but there was never any chance of UKIP or the BNP winning, so why not enjoy them sticking the boot into Clegg and friends.

At any rate, the yellow vote has utterly collapsed in Barnsley, dumping them below the 5% threshold which sees them lose their deposit. Any government party can expect to fare less favourably in a by-election (God knows that Labour had enough bad ones), but this is landmark. Already Lib Dems are making excuses that the turnout was low, that their voters simply stayed at home. Possible, but it’s far more likely that those who voted Lib Dem at the general election are so disgusted with the party’s behaviour since entering office, that they politically withheld their vote, or switched to Labour (the only left-wing, progressive party left in British politics).

It’s a humiliating endorsement for the Lib Dem leadership, that they were so heavily punished in an area that will be most damaged by the cuts which have, by and large, yet to come into effect. This is the start of something that the government are denying; that people are not going to sit and accept ideological cuts to the poorest in society. With the local elections coming up in May, and the Lib Dem’s large council base, the party must be really starting to worry.

Still, there’s a silver lining to every cloud. Or, perhaps more aptly in this case, a tin-foil lining; at least they beat the Monster Raving Loonies… There there, Clegg.

The True Enemy


Cameron, not that sad excuse for a man Clegg, is the real threat to the UK

There’s been a lot of political anger floating around the internet this week. This blog has carried a fair bit of it too. In the wake of the tuition fee travesty, and a host of other assaults on social equality and justice, the Lib Dems have borne the brunt of it.

It’s hardly surprising. The Liberal Democrats are the ones who are keeping the Tories in power. The majority of Coalition policies being enforced are directly contrary to everything the Lib Dems campaigned for in the 2010 Election. (Interestingly, it’s fun to take a look at the Liberal Democrat Manifesto 2010, and try to spot the parts that are actually to be implemented. It’s like a political game of “Where’s Wally?”). People feel deceived by the Lib Dems, and the excuses that “Oh, we didn’t know how bad a state the country was in” and “You have to compromise in coalition government” are wearing thin, because yes they did know how bad it was, and for a compromise they seem to have gotten very little out of the deal.

People’s anger at the Lib Dems is entirely justified, let me make that clear. They lied. They’ve gone back on promises. But although they should carry their share of the blame for the economic and social vandalism that’s taking place at the moment, it’s important I think for us to remember that they aren’t alone in this. The main power, behind the yellow scapegoats, is the Tories.

And the Tories never lied about it. Not really. They said that they’d changed, that they weren’t the nasty party any more, but I don’t think any of us seriously believed that. For the most part, they were disgustingly up front about what they intended to do to our society, and the Lib Dem’s involvement has only given the opportunity to be more vicious.

It’s easy to attack the Lib Dems. They’re cowards. They’re weak. But the real power here, the force that it slashing public services, that is playing fast and loose with the economy, that is making the poorest in society pay for their misguided ideas, are the Conservatives. Whenever they’re in power, Conservatives cut. We saw it under Thatcher just as much as we’re seeing it now, and I can guarantee you that the Tories would still be cutting and cutting hard even without a recession and deficit as an excuse.

We (the people who believe that what is happening is wrong) can focus all our fire on the Liberal Democrats. We can tear them down as cowards, traitors to their principles, opportunists, liars. We can make sure they never win a seat again for the next generation. But the real danger is, and always has been, conservatism. Liberal Democracy is conservatism in a yellow jacket and a smug sense of superiority.

The next election will, whatever happens, be a straight slog between the left and the right. Labour and the Conservatives- the Lib Dems are effectively finished now. What is shaping up is an ideological battle the like of which we haven’t seen since the fall of Thatcher. And we, the left, need to start getting ready for it now if we’re to really win. We need to be tackling the Tories head on, not just rubbishing the Liberal Democrats. We need to make sure we remember who the true enemy is.

[Many thanks to Kieran Patel, for spotting my embarrassing mistakes]