Hart of the Matter
nominations have closed and the runners and riders are all listed before they
make their way down to the start. Whether all of them will come under starterís
orders is another matter because there are still more than three weeks to go,
which is plenty of time for gaffes.
we now have some idea at a local level who we shall get to choose between and I
have to say the range of options is quite wide.
plenty of nominations in Haverhill this time, so there are none in the town
elected unopposed, and there will be no need for co-options later as there were
last time. This time no one can argue with the result.
probably a variety of reasons for this, but the healthy political debate at
both national and local levels over the last two or three years must have quite
a lot to do with it.
cynicism there may be around, there are still plenty of people prepared to
stand up for something or other, or against something or other.
think this marks the point when Haverhill finally put behind it the memories of
the Haverhill Representative Alliance debacle and its divisive and damaging
aftermath, which had put many potential community leaders off becoming involved
in local politics at all.
untried and inexperienced generation took their place and stumbled rather
incoherently towards a greater understanding of how to get things done, if they
can be done at all.
Now they have
gained some confidence, and an even newer generation of protest politicians are
nipping at their heels as hard as they can, reflecting the dynamic which is in
evidence at a national level as well.
they have is very different from that of the current establishment. Whereas
that has a record with which many are highly discontented, and has to spend its
whole time trying to justify itself and not to offend against the latest political
fashions, the new kids on the block have to persuade the electorate of what
they stand for.
It is easy
to be against things, but a lot more difficult to define exactly what one is in
there is the prospect of a close, exciting and maybe even defining election.
The only worry is how many people will actually take part in it.
ago such a situation would have resulted in a huge turnout, but there is a
degree of apathy, particularly amongst the young, which reflects how they find
all this political argument and posturing singularly unimpressive.
ask naively, can people not just work together to do the best for the country
and for all of us? The answer to that lies in the curious human condition of
having opinions. If you donít have an opinion on something it is always hard to
see why anyone should feel strongly enough about it to disagree violently with
There is considerable
danger in not having an opinion, or in having such a woolly one that you donít
feel that it is worth expressing even in as mild a form as a cross on a ballot
I hear young
people say that they would like to vote Ė even that they feel it is their duty
to vote, honouring all those who fought to obtain that privilege in past
generations Ė but they just donít know who to vote for. Afraid of doing the
wrong thing, they may err on the side of doing nothing at all.
I wonder how
many young people felt like that in Germany in 1933. Not that we face anything
like that sort of choice here on May 7, but the option of doing nothing can
have quite serious consequences.
It was nice
to see TOWIEís Jonny Essex at least trying to get a handle on what was at stake
in the election by chatting to the political leaders. I would like to think
Haverhill was not awash with people who are quite as ignorant as he was until
he began to do something about it, but Iím not sure, particularly when it comes
to local politics.
It would be
interesting to have a poll which could tell us how many Haverhill residents
under 30 could name our MP, our town mayor, or the parties which control
Suffolk County Council, St Edmundsbury Borough Council and Haverhill Town Council.
fear the answer would be a shock to many of my generation. If the poll went on
to tell us how many of them could say in which areas of life they would be
affected by the voting at a local level on May 7, the answer might be an even
greater shock. And if you donít know how the result would affect you, why would
you bother to vote?
fault of all the parties, who insist on talking in a language only the
politically literate can understand and, much of the time, addressing
themselves to the Westminster Village Ė and I donít suppose many people under
30 even know what that means.
the Scottish Referendum achieved such a massive turnout was that the issue was
easy to understand. It was extremely difficult to unravel its complexities and
to assess who was telling the truth about them, but at heart it was an easy choice
to comprehend Ė Yes or No.
election is much more difficult and, as often when faced with a question for
which there is not a simple answer, people shy away from it, taking refuge in
the personalities, or just not taking part at all.
In the end,
perhaps it is best to imagine what one might be shouting when queueing
immediately behind an indecisive motorist at a T-junction. For goodnessí sake,
make a decision and move on.