...in the bottom drawer
I knew I'd lose it so I put it in a safe place, and now I can't remember where it is.

currently stashed in: Cheshire Street, London
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May 04, 2006 || 8:47 am
Election day

My fellow Tower Hamlets-blogger and Arsenal fan Diamond Geezer puts it much better than I can:

Who'd want to live in one of the poorest boroughs in the country? Well, me for a start. But there are deep-seated problems here regarding poverty, community services and unemployment, so any local council has its work cut out trying to give the poorest residents a leg-up. The Liberals ran the borough back in the early 90s, while more recently Labour has had overall control. But this may not be the case by tomorrow morning. Come daybreak tomorrow the Respect Party may have wrested power via the ballot box, rather like their party's leader managed in the General Election last year. Yet again Tower Hamlets risks a major electoral upset, and I face living in a political experiment.

I had to leave the house at 6am this morning so didn't get to vote then. Hopefully I'll be back in time to cast a vote against Galloway - but for whom? I'm not even sure I know who my local councillor is. I think they're Lib Dem. I have had a few desultory leaflets through my door but absolutely no-one has attempted to canvas me. Diamond Geezer says that a lot of effort has gone into canvassing Shadwell ward. Well, I can tell him that little ol' me in Weavers hasn't had a sniff of a pollster.

Is it because I don't have an Asian surname? I wonder - the battle for votes sees Respect trying to canvas the Muslim vote despite Galloway's repulsive semi-naked antics on Big Brother. They don't want me and I don't subscribe to the Socialist Worker, although my upstairs neighbour's father is a leader of the Stop the War coalition...in Yorkshire. But equally, you'd think that if Labour were trying to hang on for dear life, they might put a little bit of effort into making sure that I even get to the polling station rather than apathetically forgetting my polling card on the hall table.

I've said it before: I like to think of myself as an active citizen. I care about politics, and local politics in particular, and I even get together a petition every now and then. But if no-one cares about my opinions, keeps me informed about what's going on, does the bare minimum that every direct mail marketing company does (or even my own company, which sent out over 1000 newsletters with around 500 hand-written cards last week - for a company of five), then why should I care to keep them in a job by voting? Let the council go to the dogs: except no, I can't do that, as then my rubbish will get collected even less frequently, and if I try to claim my legal rights, I will get stuck in an even longer telephone tree.

Those politicos, they've got us conscientious types in a classic double bind: they don't have to bother engaging with us in the slightest, because no matter how badly we're treated by them, there's always someone worse that could take over, so we still trudge down to the polling station. But 'our' numbers get smaller by the year and there is absolutely no way that they can put the blame on us, the electorate. They are the ones who don't ever bother - don't give me 'voter apathy'.

I've never had a card to tell me who my local councillor is and how to contact them, which should be the first thing to arrive on your doormat when you move house. I have never had a single political party inform me of their activities or policies in anything other than a flyer through the door, not even for a general election. I've never had anyone, ever, canvas me or try to engage me in politics (and pub rants with my friends don't count). And then, they expect us to make an educated decision when we get to the voting booth?

1 comments

1 Comments:

I've had just one leaflet (from Respect, as it turns out) and not a single attempt at doorstep canvassing. I guess political parties just aren't willing, or able, to make the effort to contact us any more.

Now the nervous wait begins...

By Blogger diamond geezer, at 8:45 pm  

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