Friday, 3 April 2015

Don't let us forget where politics starts

In case you have forgotten, next month there takes place a General Election. One could easily be forgiven for thinking if we did not, for some reason know otherwise, that we were in fact expecting a Presidential poll, so narrow has been the media focus on the party leaders. Yet on 7th May there are also elections all over the country to select not only Members of Parliament who are supposed to represent tens of thousands of those who live near where they claim to; and council members in thousands, who undoubtedly do.

There is little as yet to suggest to the electorate that this latter battle is imminent. Hedgerows and walls are still quite bare of garish posters introducing locals to neighbours they probably do not know but who aspire to win their votes. These local elections matter. They are not about remote avatars but flesh and blood people, mostly unpaid, familiar with the locale but still espousing their own prejudices, ideologies and favourite issues on which to base the policies and spending decisions which have some of the most immediate impact on communities.

These candidates are all human, prone to idiosyncrasies, with disparate personalities and capabilities. But they are also potentially influential on the well-being of their neighbours, so merit scrutiny; and some credit for taking on sometimes tedious and disagreeable issues. This election should not be ignored under the shadow of the more remote but publicised one dominating the attention of the Press and broadcasters. It should be taken seriously by voters as well as by candidates. Otherwise, how on Earth can one justifiably grumble?

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