I received a piece of election literature through the door today, from someone standing as a parish councillor. This is brilliant – someone taking the parish elections seriously enough to spend money on producing leaflets. I read a few of the policies (reducing anti-social behaviour, great, new footpath (good, but in the wrong place), other stuff (not sure you’ll have the power, but good thoughts), but then saw that it was a UKIP flier. Boo.
Firstly, there is a problem with political parties being involved with parishes. Our parish will have 9 councillors, rather than the 650 in parliament or 60 in Swindon town council, so they should be able to vote on issues independently, rather than having to decide among themselves in groups what they stand for. The national issues will generally not be relevant to parishes, and the local councillors should be elected overwhelmingly on individual competence rather than a broad sweeping generalisation on what they stand for. Sadly, very few electors will put in the effort to find this out, which is one of the reasons that parish elections are flawed anyway.
However, the big impact of having party political allegiance is that for lots of electors the broad sweeping generalisation is what they will vote on, which brings us back to UKIP. I will never vote UKIP, for a few reasons. In the beginning they were a dog-whistle racist party, in that not everyone who votes UKIP is racist, but if you are racist you are likely to vote UKIP, and equally if you are racist and want a mainstream political party to represent, then you are likely to choose UKIP. Therefore, the broad sweeping generalisation that comes with being a representative of UKIP is that you are a bit racist, in the same way as Conservative means low tax, and Labour means high public spending. Lib Dems, still not sure. Green, lots of good things, but we don’t have anyone standing for Green in our ward.
In addition, UKIP’s reason for being is Brexit, which I am very much against. It has been, and continues to be, a massive distraction from the actual important issues. There is very little time for actual governing, while ridiculous number of hours are given over firstly to campaigning for the referendum, and now putting into place a decision made with a majority of 52-48. No-one can know the actual economic impact of coming out of the EU, so it seemed to me to be a completely irrelevant choice, fundamentally based on a certain amount of xenophobia.
So, in summary, I wish that parish councillors were all standing as independents, but if they do choose to align themselves with a party, this will lead to me ruling some out due to this, and then choosing from the rest on the basis of perceived competence. Not that I have much of a way of finding this out, as none of those standing has ever got involved with any of the community activities that I have organised over the last three years…