Thursday, May 04, 2006

Council elections

Today's the day. The newspapers, and the party leaders may be telling you that this is a referendum on national issues.

But it should be (and, in my view, it is) about local Councillors. It's about them as people. Their qualities. The way they represent people, the way that their conciences temper the decisions they make and the work they do.

Brother Bob and Andrew are just a few examples of the real engine room of local democracy. I've highlighted Labour Councillors, but that's they way I am. The other parties have their honourable equivalents.

And you can find out all about them from their Blogs. Even their political opponents are wishing them luck in a personal capacity (and a qualified way, obviously) because they have taken the trouble to tell people more about themselves and their work.

By being thoughtful and engaging, they (and the dozens of other Councillors who blog as well) have started to improve local democracy in a small but vital way.

Personally, I'd struggle to be a Councillor. I don't think that I have the guts or the dedication that they have. I'd struggle to find the time, given the job I do. I'm not even sure that I've got the moral courage you need to strike a political bargain in the way that Councillors often have to.
Whenever I hear commentators being hoity-toity about the supposed moral failings of politicians, I always want the opportunity to ask "but what would you do...?" just to see how long their ability to be realistic lasts.

It's a real shame that electoral turnouts are low for Council elections. I wish they were higher than in General Elections.

Vote today. And if you can, vote for the candidates - not their party.
Update - 5.5.06: Cllr Andrew Brown lost his seat in Lewisham. Brother Bob kept his, though his silvery lining is darkened by four new BNP Councillors in Sandwell.

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