CHRIS GREEN MP - Preparing for the local elections
Politicians are not like normal people. Whilst I know that some of you will be surprised to hear that, especially from a politician, I think it to be true and I suspect that the majority will agree with me.
Most people, when they hear that an election is looming will despair about seeing politicians spending yet more time on television, on the radio and in the papers. Add to that, the doorstep campaign activities step up a notch or two so you are far more likely to be asked to voice your deepest concerns about the council, country or globe with only a moment’s notice.
For activists, candidates, councillors and MPs the build up to an election is an exciting and energising time.
When Theresa May, as Prime Minister, triggered a General Election in 2017 and Jeremy Corbyn supported it, much of the country agreed with Brenda from Bristol when she despairingly said “oh no, not another one”.
Admittedly, my delight soon morphed into a sense of panic as the campaign did not go quite according to plan but that is part of what our democracy is about and a lesson is always there that politicians are there to serve the people and we will be punished if we get things wrong.
Early in 2020, when the concerns were mounting over the emergence of a new and deadly virus in China, the Government and its advisors decided that political campaigning and the local and mayoral elections had to be postponed for a year.
Even at the beginning of this year, there were fears that the elections would not be able to proceed but the Prime Minister is delivering on the most amazing and comprehensive vaccine roll out, so they are going ahead.
This means that local political volunteers are now mobilising to write and print their leaflets, nominate candidates and do all the myriad things that go on behind the scenes to make them work.
So much of this, whatever the political party, is done by volunteers.
When I joined my local Conservative association is when I first began to understand just how much time and effort goes into each and every local election. The locals may not have the impact that a General Election has but there is still almost as much work that goes on behind the scenes.
It is these party members and volunteers that make our democracy work and, whatever the political persuasion, they should be recognised and applauded for what they do.
In the Greater Manchester administrative area, we are also having the election for our Police and Crime Commissioner who also holds the title of mayor. Law and order is still the number one concern for so many of my constituents so this is a critical position even though it is little understood.
As the lockdown is unwound, the campaign activity will ramp up. I was out this past weekend on the campaign trail but we are still only allowed to deliver leaflets. Soon we will be allowed to canvass as well.
Naturally, there will be concerns about the coronavirus disease but we should have confidence that the elections will be safe. The number of tests are massively increasing in number but they are now having far fewer positive results. The hospitals are seeing far fewer admissions and the death rate has plummeted.
Too often local elections reflect the national mood so I hope that people reflect on the local need when deciding their local candidate and who should be running the council.
Elections are a huge commitment for so many council workers from people manning the polling stations to the Returning Officer who has the legal responsibility for overseeing a free and fair election. They always do a superb job for us.
The final key player is our local press. By buying a newspaper we can all be better informed and it is that drip, drip, drip of news throughout the year that ensures that we have a sense of who may be the best champions for our communities.
I am going to enjoy this election, hope that you appreciate everyone’s efforts and go out to vote.
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