Local council elections

Yesterday evening, after a day of recovery from the previous night’s delightful celebration, I walked across our warm and sunny village to cast my vote in the local council elections. Our polling station seemed to be pleasingly busy and I will watch with interest as the results start to come in later today. I am rather hoping for a bit of an upset when the votes are counted; the political system in this country could do with a major shake up.

I rarely go out in our village in the evenings and was surprised by how quiet it seemed. There were a few children playing in the field and a small number of dog walkers taking their evening exercise, but the most notable change from my regular, daytime excursions was the number of cars on the road. Most of them appeared to contain local residents heading towards the centrally located polling station. It still perplexes me that so many drive from one end of our small village to the other, especially as it was such a lovely evening. All will happily fill their recycling containers, and the visual blight of solar panels on roofs has not escaped our picturesque location, but still they feel comfortable using their car for such a short journey. Many of them even choose to drive to the local gym which I find bizarre.

It seems to me that elections have become more frequent events in recent years, or maybe this is just time appearing to pass more quickly as I get older. When I was a child I used to enjoy the seemingly rare election days as the primary school that I attended was used as a polling station, meaning that I got the day off school. This also used to be the case in our village but, since the new village hall was completed at the turn of the century, the primary school opens as usual and it is the pre school and other local groups who must close for the day to allow the hall to be used by voters. Unlike the joy of a day off school, my youngest son was most put out when his badminton club was forced to cancel their planned session yesterday evening. Despite the lovely weather, he used the unexpected free time to play on his Wii. I was still feeling too weary to remonstrate with him over this choice.

Local council elections do not, understandably, induce the same level of excitement as national elections. As London was not involved in this round of voting there has not been the coverage that can be expected when the media capital is included. There has been much comment about the possibility of a fourth party gaining enough seats to oust the comfortable incumbents of our established, three party system. If this happens, it could make next years European elections and the following year’s general election much more interesting. I think that this is what I am hoping for. Too many people seem to have given up on the possibility of changing the way the country is being run. A little more interest and participation may be the only way to sort out this situation and orchestrate improvement in the lives of the many rather than the privileged few.

Despite my interest, I am not a political activist. I am not convinced enough of the merits of any particular candidate or party to be willing to fight for their corner. I am generally suspicious of anyone who chooses to put themselves forward for an elected role that provides an element of power over others, particularly those who wish to run for national government. I guess that there must be some honest politicians but they seem to be few and far between. The current crop seem more interested in pursuing their own pet projects for the benefit of friends and relations than in improving the lives of the constituents they are handsomely paid to represent.

Local elections are, of course, a very different power game. There still seems to be that element of corruption though. In my area there are particular land owners who seem to be able to get anything they want through the system while ordinary people are charged exorbitantly for every change they wish to make and are thwarted at every opportunity. The cosy relationships and fawning attitudes do not suggest a representative fighting for improvements in individuals lives but rather an attempt to improve numbers and statistics while being photographed beside those who will show due gratitude for favours.

I do not expect a sea change this time around but hope for enough of a disturbance in the comfortable, status quo to make more people believe in the possibility of change. The denizens of power will not wish to be ousted and will switch their allegiances if they think that this will allow them to keep their positions. Those who are entitled to vote may do so in greater numbers if they can see that doing so may actually make a difference.

For today though, I have slept well and woken to another lovely, sunny day. I plan to walk to the local gym for a light work out and a swim before spending some time this afternoon in the garden with my chickens. We have a bank holiday weekend to look forward to which I hope to spend relaxing with my little family. Sometimes it feels good to shut out the rest of the world and just be.

Nouormand: Êlections au mais d'Octobre 2008, Jèrri