Tuesday, 20 June 2017

It's election time again

At least for readers in the Grange Park area of Hedge End, as yet another Lib Dem councillor has failed to stay the course and resigned before they completed their term of office. A few months earlier and the by election could have happened at the same time as the County Council elections in May. A few months later and the Council could have legitimately limped on with just 37 Lib Dems until the planned elections in May 2018.  But no, just three weeks after the general election voters in Grange Park will have to tramp to the polling stations again to elect a councillor who will have to defend their seat in just ten months time.

That may explain why the tributes to outgoing Councillor Bloom at last week's local area committee meeting were somewhere on the spectrum from muted to non-existent. The committee chair gave a cursory run through of Cllr Bloom's achievements in making Grange Park a safe seat for the Lib Dems, while putting Eastleigh "on the map" with respect to recycling. When the chair invited other members to contribute he was met by an embarrassing silence. At least it was embarrassing for those of us in the public seats. The leader of the council seemed more interested in his mobile phone than in listening to any tribute to his erstwhile cabinet colleague.

However from a purely selfish point of view, I like elections. I am the complete opposite of that wonderful lady in Bristol who was interviewed at the start of the snap general election campaign. You won't get any"not another one" message from me. We need more and more frequent participation in the democratic process. We need to be able to tell our politicians when they are getting things right and when they are getting things wrong - and not just on Twitter and Facebook.

So I was honoured and humbled to be selected as the Labour Party candidate in the by election on June 29. Because the Labour Party is the party that is getting things right at the moment.  The snap general election has left UKIP and the Lib Dems leaderless and irrelevant. The Lib Dems might come back if they manage to find a decent leader amongst their dozen MPs and hundreds of lost deposits. However for now they are rudderless and we don't know if they will continue their doomed obsession with economic liberalism, austerity and cuts to public service, or if they will in desperation try to reconnect with any social liberals left in their ranks. The Conservatives might as well be leaderless. The snap election and the campaign before it showed Theresa May to be out of touch, unable or unwilling to think on her feet, fragile and gaffe-prone.

Jeremy Corbyn is the leader who has come out of the campaign as the strong, stable candidate with policies that give people hope rather than the despair of another five years of austerity. In Southport the Lib Dems lost the seat at the general election and Labour pushed them into third place. The outgoing MP has attributed their defeat to Jeremy Corbyn's leadership and the Labour Party manifesto. Even Lib Dems think Labour has the right leader and the right policies.

The Grange Park by election is a local election, and voters will quite rightly look at the local candidates and decide on local issues. But the media and pundits will pounce on any polls during this period of political chaos to try and work out the implications for the national picture. Labour supporters in Grange Park have a unique chance to show they, too, are excited and empowered by the Corbyn surge. Labour supporters can vote for a party which will end austerity cuts to our local services and stop the privatisation and break up of the NHS.

Tomorrow I will explain a little more about why I am standing, but in the meantime if you live in Grange Park and have any questions, do use the comments facility of this blog or email me at hedgeendblogger@gmail.com.

(This blog post is published and promoted on behalf of Keith Day, Eastleigh Labour Party, 69 Leigh Road, Eastleigh)

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