Councils across the West Midlands, hold elections tomorrow. In Birmingham all 101 seats are up for grabs. The winners have the privilege of serving for the next four years.
I expect turnout to be low, less than 30% could decide those who run local services. I regularly come across folk who are dissatisfied about a council matter. It’s tempting, although a bit harsh, to point out they could have participated in the ballot and chose not to.
In some countries there’s a legal requirement to vote. I don’t favour that because I think it’s the job of politicians to persuade people, but I wonder if, in local elections, we could incentivise people?
Those who register get a better credit rating, although that’s no guarantee of voting? Is there an argument for saying that those who vote should get something more, for example, a 5% discount on council tax? After all, local elections are about what you get for that council tax.
I also strongly feel that, as with MPs, it shouldn’t be a one-off exercise about a cross in a box and that’s it for another 4 or 5 years.
Elections should be the start of a process, a conversation about what you want and those you elect to deliver it.
I don’t always agree with some of my constituents but I’m happy to hear from them, especially about their concerns. It’s important councillors hear your views on the decisions they make.
I’ve seen people in countries, previously denied a vote, standing in the baking sun for hours just to make their mark on the paper.
When people don’t vote, democracy falls into decay and that can lead to a situation like Russia, where a dictator feels free to act with impunity, sacrificing the lives of his own young men and butchering innocent civilians.
Most people know where my politics lie but whatever your views, I urge you to vote tomorrow.
People fought and died for our freedoms in the last war. Please take part and hold elected representatives to account. That’s the way to keep our democracy relevant and alive!