Last night I went to see Making Mayhem, a play at the Library Theatre by Alice Collins. It was all about the suffragettes in Sheffield, and the suffering they went through to win votes for women. Now we take voting for granted, but there are still some countries, like Saudi Arabia, where women don’t have the vote. In last years election in Manor Castle the turn out was only 24%, and many other people aren’t registered to vote. We really should exercise our democratic duty. Before I started standing in local elections and there wasn’t a candidate I was happy to vote for, I used to spoil my ballot paper by writing on it what I thought! However, I hope this year you think there is a candidate good enough to vote for!
Our ridiculous voting system doesn’t encourage people to vote. Last time the Greens got more than 10% of the vote across the city, but only one Green Councillor was elected. This year we’re likely to increase our percentage, but we are unlikely to win more than one seat. In Scotland they have just introduced proportional representation for local elections, so the Greens are bound to do much better. People will be able to vote positively for the Party they want to represent them and not feel they have to vote negatively to “keep the other lot out”. In Manor Castle I need to quadruple my vote to get elected under the first past the post system- but as concern rises over climate change, our local transport system, housing and the creeping privatisation of schools and health services, I am beginning to think that it’s possible.
I got the election leaflet from the Labour candidate, Jennifer Armstrong, through my door today. I was very disappointed that it didn’t really tell me anything about the candidate. Voters will not know how well qualified she is to serve them on the Council. There are no hustings in this ward, so they wont have the opportunity to hear her speak. There is no information about her on the internet that I could find, except that she contested the Broomhill local elections last year, coming third.(behind the Greens!) So all we know about her is that she has recently moved to the ward, has been selected to stand by the Labour Party, and has planted some bulbs outside the Trades and Labour Club! I think the local people should at least be given the opportunity to ask the candidates some questions before they vote. Where are the community organisations, churches and mosques? Why aren’t they inviting candidates to hustings? People died in order for us all to have the vote- we really should take local elections more seriously!