Local Elections 2019 are not Brexit

Local Elections 2019 are not Brexit

19th April 2019 Blog 0

I wrote to the Northwich Guardian in response to their article from April 17th entitled, ‘This is my response to the traitors in government’ with a photograph of a spoilt postal ballot paper, defaced with a pro-Brexit message. Some comments to that article offered support and encouragement to the act of spoiling their vote, with others claiming they would adopt a similar approach to their ballot paper in their local elections.

But this act of destruction is a needless, pointless gesture; this election is nothing to do with Brexit. Cheshire West and Chester councillors do not have a vote on whether the UK adopts a Common Market 2.0 approach, a no deal Brexit, a cliff-edge Brexit, an EEA Brexit, revocation of Article 50 or anything in between.

However, the councillors elected will be that community’s voice on the council for four years. They will speak on planning matters, our roads, social services, our libraries, local schools and education, leisure facilities, the refuse and waste collection, environmental health, our town centres, our parks, council tax and so much more. But not a single meaningful vote on the Brexit options before the Government.

I am one of the three candidates in Shakerley; my name is on that ballot paper that Tom Clarke destroyed. Even if every member of electorate was to destroy their ballot paper, then either myself, Councillor Tony Lawrenson or Councillor Mark Stocks will be the voice for those communities for four years.

It would be a shame if the perceived failure of our national politicians motivated voters to refuse to participate in local democracy. All groups are angry over Brexit – from the deadlock in Parliament,  the single-issue dominating the news and parliamentary agenda, the electoral fraud, the systemic failure of our political system – but refusing to partake in the electoral system while claiming your voice is not being heard is simply not the answer.

And neither is referring to politicians as traitors. It’s almost three years since an extremist murdered a sitting MP in broad daylight; they justified their senseless violence with similar allegations of treachery. While every week, moderate MPs report death threats and hateful abuse; this is not the political climate we should aspire to and is not the environment that will allow for compromise and progress. As a society we need to move away from this dangerous rhetoric.

Meanwhile, I have been campaigning about the state of our roads, the route of HS2, the incinerators and quarries that would blight my ward, the removal of NHB cash from parish councils and neighbourhood planning. I am sure my fellow candidates for Shakerley are similarly engaged. Quite how that would make me – or them – an enemy of the state, is anyone’s guess.

So I implore any voter who believes that ruining their vote will send a political message to think again. It won‘t achieve anything, except to ensure that their voice is not heard.

Photo from Pixabay