As I begin to write this, there are 50 hours until the polls open on the 7th May. After watching about a dozen debates and interviews I feel like one of the Animal Farm incumbents looking in at the window of the farmhouse – I can’t tell the difference anymore!
At a local level, there are eight candidates standing for election. I’ve received leaflets from 5 of them delivered by the postal service. One of the leaflets didn’t even bear any contact details – he’s off the list of possibles straight away. Of the three still to submit their propaganda, I’m astounded that one in particular has not bothered, considering how close I am to the fabled “White Van & Cabbie” heartlands.
I’ve not been visited by anyone. I’m told the practice of PPC’s going out to their constituents is called “canvassing”; a method that had been employed to encourage people to vote for them. It was an opportunity for the person with the vote to ask questions and engage with the individual that could potentially be representing them for the period of the next parliament. I can’t ask a leaflet, or get my queries answered by shouting at the TV or taking to social media, but apparently prospective MP’s are engaging more than ever with the electorate?
Once elected, an MP’s salary is not exactly pocket-change at about UKP 67,000/annum (plus expenses) – is it unreasonable to expect someone who really wants the job, resultant salary and raft of perks to put the effort in?
The only “local interaction” of any sort that I’ve witnessed was on Thursday – I heard a cacophonous racket when going through town and then saw the source – a blue van covered in Union flags and UKIP posters – the noise was being created by the two horns on the front blaring out the Dam Busters theme – being played in from the obligatory slipping tape. Everything about it screamed “Britishness”. Except the van – that was German. The irony was not lost on me.
If any local candidate comes knocking in the next 3 days they will get my vote by default; at least they will have been bothered enough to try and win it. If I don’t see anybody then I’ll probably employ “tactical voting” – which can be summed up as voting for someone that won’t win, but my vote won’t be wasted and it will help send a message to those that feel they’ve an automatic right to it. This might also be called the “least worst” option.
If it were up to me, I’d make voting compulsory. I’d also add a “none of the above” option on the ballot form – no better way to let those who would seek to govern know that you don’t think any of them are up to the task.