Well, now that it is all over and the dust has all but settled; I thought I would begin writing stuff again… plus seeing as they are now only four of my follow Lib Dems in office, I don’t think I shall be getting in too much bother ~ though I could be wrong… I have been before!
Going into the election I knew that being a Lib Dem would not be easy, I knew that many people disliked what they (I still feel weird saying us) have done to the town etc. and I also realised that they had a good chance of losing control of the borough council. For the record, I never saw that result coming either… nor did I ever think Tony Clarke would lose either.
Regardless, I was happy to help “my party.” I wasn’t joining a party to be popular, I still believe in the “pre~amble” they have on their membership cards… however; I do worry that many of the others in the party did not believed the same. It sometimes felt that being a councillor/working for the public, was more about towing the party line than what their core principles are. It sometimes seemed to be a case of “this is far too important to play fair” or “we must win at all costs.”
Not that there is anything wrong with wanting to win or doing as you are told.
I understand the need for rules and that we should, on the whole; follow them.
But, and this has always been one of my “bugbears” as it were; if your boss (in whatever sense of the word) told you to jump off a cliff ~ are you really going to do it without as much as an; “why?” Which all leads me to question, what on earth has happened to make many of us like this?
Someone in the party would constantly tell me that they “needed” to win, and all I could think was; why? Is it really that important to win? When did it change from “because I want to serve my fellow Northamptonians,” to “because I need the money?”
Life and people are far more important than money will ever be, I don’t want my ward councillor telling me I should vote for them; I want to vote for them because they work hard and will do their best for my area… if you are doing it right, I don’t need to be told about it.
I personally believe there are a few main reasons why the Lib Dems lost control of the Borough; one of them is of course because of the nation scene. Supports of both the Tories and Lib Dems seem to be uncomfortable with the coalition, and you cannot blame them really can you? Is it a case of Clegg selling out for a place of power in the government, or simply a case of him seeing the potential? I personally have never liked this coalition, if I had wanted to be close to a Tory; I would have still been one!
Had it been me leading the party, I would have stepped back. Keeping my promises and integrity while allowing the Tories to (if it goes like it) make a balls up of it all… after all, there will be another election along in four~ish years; and that isn’t that long when it comes to politics!
I feel that another reason is that they were adamant that the town centre should come first when it came to planning etc. and I cannot say I completely disagree. Picture the scene if you will… (And this is a tangent, but it works)
In four years’ time, the Saints and Cobblers have an Asda and Ikea on their plots of land. They have developed their grounds etc. and everyone that matters is happy… the parking is a nightmare in St. James and Duston Road, but that doesn’t matter. Tesco’s moves in up by the Saints too, because they always get in upon the act; and Sainsbury’s makes a fuss and has its extension too. Throw in some other shops etc. and you have your very own “Weston Favell” type centre up in St. James/Duston/Upton area…
Now, you get people like my parents and others who don’t like going to the town centre; who now have everything need (or would go to Milton Keynes for) right there on their doorstep… where do you think people will go? I know without even having to ask where my folks will go, trust me I can save every council the consultant fee by telling you; it will be to the out of town shopping centre! I mean, why go town (which is slowly and painfully dying) when you have it all five minutes away? When petrol/diesel is the price it is, and the buses are a nightmare too, why would anyone bother or care about the town centre?
So what happens to the Market that is never going to be the same simply because people shop differently nowadays? What happens when the stores that have been in the town for like ever, finally get up and go elsewhere? When will the council start to worry? When places like Sainsbury’s, Church’s China, Debenhams, House of Fraser, or Church’s Shoes? What will be the wakeup call for them I wonder? What happens when we lose the towns venues like the theatres? Will that shock you all into doing something? When the town is a ghost town, what then?
Before you chastise me for spouting political brainwash garbage, I am basing this on firstly my own views but also those of the forgotten few; the silent majority that most politicians forget. People like my parents, who have not voted for ages because they think “you lot” are all the same. Normal people who have far more important things to worry about than which council does what or who runs it, it is these people most of you forget. Because while being a loud mouth (and I say that with affection as it is aimed at some people I know) is all well and good, and does get you so far; but not everyone wants to be that ~ or can be like that for that matter!
Before the election, the local paper (Chron & Echo) held a big debate and got people of the town to ask the candidates what they would do when they were elected. Towards the end of the night, a young lad got up and asked what each would do to inspire him and people like him to not only vote but also take an interest. And in truth that about sums it all up really, most people don’t want to hear that such and such a person left his car in his parking spot; they have more important things to worry about.
They won’t care if such and such a candidate is standing against his former party who kicked him out in such a rough way, the majority of people don’t bother with local politics and rarely care (especially now) about the national scene either… simply put, people are too busy with their lives to bother or care. Yes they want things to be better; yes they want to pay less council tax etc. but in truth they have their lives to get on with!!
But those same people have a voice and a vote, many of whom may have voted; many of whom may have seen you “all to be the same” and sent back a vote of “no confidence" in those that rule us. I guess my point (yes, I think I have one) is that it isn’t the ones with the biggest voice you need to worry about, it is those silent majority that need to be convinced or shown that you are not all the same. Even though I am interested in politics and even though I should know better; sometimes I think you are all the same…
They say the best government is that in opposition, and in some respects this is true; they always tell us voters they will do what the government is not doing... trouble is that every time an opposition says that and gets elected, none seem to hold true to their words!!! And maybe this is my point about everyone being the same, being proved right? Everyone says they will do their best for the voters; they will listen and stick to their promises, which is great… but in four years’ time when they have failed they either blame someone else, be that a previous council/government or just tell us things will get better and they will do it right the next time.
So I really do wish this new administration well, I hope they will not be the same. I hope that they keep their promises; I hope that both the Saints and the Cobblers get what they want. I hope that Fitzy and the Market survives, I hope that MY town does not die… but should the Tories fail to deliver, would the last person to leave Northampton please turn off the lights?
(Rant over, for now…)