The Face of Local Politics

Claire's Lib Dem Councillor SignI spotted the sign on the right while driving into Dorridge yesterday, and a quick glance at the Lib Dem literature confirms it (there’s a photo). I can’t find Claire listed on the Solihull Lib Dem website other than a quick mention here.

The Solihull Lib Dem website could do with a decent spelling / grammar checker, but the front page indicates the narrow margin between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems in the Solihull area. If you know me it probably doesn’t come as any big shock to find that I vote Labour in the parliamentary elections. However the council elections are another matter. They’re a bit tricky, really. I don’t know what the idea is. Are you meant to vote for the party you want elected, as is the case in parliamentary elections, or do you vote for the person? I’d imagine the latter, but given that the coverage in the local papers isn’t great (and there’s no point reading the local party literature), how do you decide? Claire’s always been a friend, and as one of the most intelligent people I know I’m inclined to think she’d do a good job. Is that enough, though? You need to be extremely proactive to make a fair comparison, it would seem.

Because of my limited knowledge of individual candidates, in the past I would have just voted Labour if there was a Solihull candidate who even bothered trying – hell, if he/she put up some damn signs it’d be enough – but there’s never been any indication of this happening, so I’ve always voted Lib Dem. I’m a bit dubious about tactical voting and, much as I’d like to see the Conservatives lose seats, don’t really want to play it that way. I take an interest in politics and try to know the views of the various parties on matters that I have some knowledge of, and nearly always find myself disagreeing with the Conservatives and agreeing with Labour / Lib Dems. So should I use this method this year?

A particularly thorny issue in Dorridge currently is the closure of the Post Office. The PO is inside One Stop, a chain which Tesco recently bought out and are replacing with Tesco Expresses. Tesco don’t want a Post Office inside their shop, so it will have to be closed. Now, I can see why Tesco would be unwilling to have a PO on their premises. There would most likely be large queues, particularly on pensions day, and the PO would take up a fair bit of their space, I would imagine. Nevertheless, it’s not very popular with local residents. While I don’t think that travelling to Knowle would actually be terribly difficult (plenty of people have to travel further to their local POs), various local candidates are joining the chorus of complaints and setting up petitions, etc. I can see that it’s disappointing to lose a PO, so anything that they can do would help. However, Mum recently visited a nearby town (can’t quite remember which one atm) with a Tesco Express that contained a Post Office. So it obviously isn’t Tesco’s general policy. This would be an excellent point, I think, but all the newspaper reports / candidate literature that I’ve seen simply contain rhetoric about how annoying it is. I’d be very impressed with a candidate who asked Tesco why Dorridge is different (and it’s very possible there is a good reason). There are also empty shops across the road – would it be possible to move the PO to one of those? There seem to be various ways of dealing with the situation, which may for all I know be going on behind the scenes, that aren’t getting through to the local populace. I can’t make decisions based on rhetoric – I need more information. Given that I know Claire, I’m sure she does know a lot more detail than is written about in the papers; how do I find out, though? I was wondering whether setting up a blog would be a good idea for candidates – that would be a cheap (hell, Blogger‘s free) but effective way of getting the message out to lazy people like me who aren’t very good at communicating 🙂

On the personal front, however, go Claire! Though it’s not a job I could face, I admire her very much for trying. As it stands currently, it’s likely she’ll get my vote.