Vote for the best local candidate on Thursday
Naturally I hope to see Conservatives winning seats in Thursday's local elections. The reason for this is that I think that the election of more Conservative councillors is likely to produce better run councils.
Throughout the media, pundits and commentators have written of these elections as a verdict on Tony Blair, Gordon Brown, or David Cameron. Suggestions are already being made of the number of net gains in council seats Daid Cameron needs to make to be perceived as successful.
The number of Conservative and Labour candidates elected and defeated will be written up as if the main purpose of the local, Scots, and Welsh elections were a sounding board for the coming general election.
However, it isn't. The purpose of the election is to decide which individuals will run local councils, the Scots parliament, and the Welsh assembly for the next few years.
Obviously it is entirely legitimate for someone who wishes to demonstrate tbat they are unhappy with, say, inadequate support for West Cumberland Hospital from the government to make this point by voting against Labour at the local elections. However, many others will be voting on the basis of the record of the local council which is actually being elected, or of their stance on issues which that council will be addressing. Many voters will take into account their opinion of the candidates standing for particular parties.
And therefore treating a set of local and regional elections as if it were a vast opinion poll is misleading.
Much as I detest Tony Blair, when I completed by postal vote in the council elections, my primary reason for voting was not to give him "one final kicking."
Much as I detest Gordon Brown, my primary motivation in casting my council vote was not to pass a verdict on him.
Though I want to see David Cameron become Prime Minister, my primary reason for voting Conservative was not to get a couple of days' good headlines for him in the national press reports on the local elections.
For me, there were two main reasons for voting Conservative in the council elections
1) I want to see more support given to West Cumberland Hospital, and a poor result for Labour in Copeland may well be interpreted as a signal that the government needs to do more to support our hospitals, and
2) I think that Copeland services would be run better if the present complacent and arrogant Labour administration was at worst given a jolt by the election of more Conservatives, or at best removed and replaced by a different administration.
I hope that there is a good turnout in the elections on Thursday, because that is healthy for democracy.
I hope that all voters pay attention to the qualities and capabilities of the candidates standing for election, because that is healthy for local democracy and for local communities.