How many elections will there be this year? We have at least a General Election and theCrawleyBorough Council Election. What if we have a hung Parliament? Then there is some historical precedent, in 1910 and 1974, for a second General Election in the same year. That would not be a good outcome. A hung Parliament delivers political uncertainty and would create an issue of confidence regarding the ability of a minority or coalition government to act decisively to reduceBritain’s horrendous budget deficit.
A second General Election in 2010 is not that appealing either. The last time this happened in 1974, the country was also in a rather parlous state. Things could only get worse although this statement was not in the Labour Party manifesto of the time. In a defining moment, the government of the day had to approach the IMF (International Monetary Fund) to bail out the country. Ugh, the indignity of it all.
Hopefully we can have a single General Election in 2010 and return a majority government. In doing so, let us not forget the local elections likely to be on the same day, Thursday 6th May. Once in a polling station, it does not need much more time to vote in two contests instead of just the one.
The manifestos presented by the political parties are an earnest attempt to state their intention to use best endeavours to deliver a programme of action. By definition, theses pieces of advertising are imperfect. Circumstances can change and knock a government or council administration off course. This is particularly true with developments in the country’s economy.
Nevertheless, we should examine the political offerings that are being made and cast our votes when the time comes. Our democracy has been bought and defended at a high cost and usage keeps it intact. The alternative is usually some form of dictatorship. With luck, this might be benign in the first instance but the instinct for self preservation takes over and at some point we get into the gradual creation of an apparatus for oppression. By way of reassurance, in the council at least, we do not have a department for that.
As we enter the election campaigning season, many political activists might reflect that they are often in a no-win situation. If they call on residents, there can sometimes be a negative reaction from them doing so. If they do not call on a house, that can attract equally critical reaction. It is still right to try and ultimately the political parties are just trying to offer a choice and communicate the substance of that. I hope that our activities can be seen in that positive light.
Councillor Bob Lanzer, Leader of Crawley Borough Council
3rd March 2010