As I write, the leaders of the main political parties are campaigning for tomorrow’s local elections. None of them are up for election, and it is quite possible that none of them know those people who are candidates. It is also quite possible that those candidates wish that their party leaders would stay as far away as possible.
To an extent, one can understand why Rishi Sunak, Sir Keir Starmer and Sir Ed Davey which to enter the fray. Not only do they want their respective parties to do well, but they want to be seen to be getting their own political messages to the people. They believe that we need reminding of how good they are, or how much better than the others they would be, or simply that they still exist. Oh, and they think that it will indicate how well they will do in the next parliamentary elections.
All of this is, of course, foolish nonsense. Here are three reasons why.
Firstly, They are local elections. The aforementioned party leaders deal with national and international affairs. Given that they grapple on a daily basis with such problems as how to inject new life into the economy, or making the National Health Service work, or evacuating British citizens from Sudan, and a whole host of other issues, Bin collections, street lighting and sewage are not likely to dominate their minds. And that is as it should be.
Secondly, the conduct of parliamentarians has a negative effect on local politics. Good conservative councillors have struggled because of the antics of Boris Johnson and his cronies. Similarly, good Labour councillors suffered because of Jeremy Corbyn when he was their leader. Councillors have nothing to do with parties in Downing Street, or equivocation on the issue of Brexit. It is appalling, therefore, that good men and women are made to feel that they have to give up serving their local communities because of some idiot or group of idiots, often hundreds of miles away.
Thirdly, one set of election results is usually meaningless when compared with another. Let us consider, for example, the elections for the European Parliament in 2019. The majority of UK seats were won by the Brexit Party, with the Liberal Democrats coming second. Labour and the Conservatives both performed dreadfully. But things were very different in December, when we elected the current parliament. The Conservatives won their largest majority since 1987, and Labour took their biggest drubbing since 1935. The Liberal Democrats performed so badly that their leader lost her seat, and the Brexit Party has become an unfortunate memory. So nobody can assume that tomorrow’s results will have any baring on an election which could still be eighteen months away.
As a voter, I’m glad that none of Westminster’s big hitters are in my area. If I were a candidate, I’d be equally relieved. I’d also have the desire to quote the country music legend, Hank Williams, to my parliamentary counterparts. “If you mind your own business, you won’t be minding mine.”
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