Pledge to vote for public services


Do anything you wanna do (but don’t do nothing)

In just under a day and a half I shall be beating my political sword into an almost literal ploughshare – my plans for this weekend include an attempt at the wilderness that occasionally masquerades as my garden.

I won’t be away from political activity for too long, but I have promised myself some much overdue family time this weekend. I have a number of urgent and overdue tasks in my various other political roles that I intend to address when the heat of battle has cooled, and as the election agent for all seventeen of Labour’s candidates in Southend I have legal obligations as well. First job, come Friday, however is to resurrect family relationships that have had to take a back-seat for the last month.

The short campaign is best characterised, in my experienced, as controlled panic. Perhaps it is worse for me because I have acquired a number of political hats over the years. I do enjoy it, but there is no denying it can be tiring and, without a long-suffering wife and children, an almost impossible task.

The short campaign has seen an explosion in political blogging in Southend, and only time will tell who lasts the course and who will take genteel internet retirement. Bilge has become an oft-used word locally to describe some of the content – and I have made my thoughts known as to who I believe is the worst culprit. It will be nice, though, upon the setting down of swords, to return to more reasoned debating.

I see politics as largely a binary choice. For me it really is a tussle between blue and red, between laissez-faire free-market pseudo-Darwinian economics and social democracy, between the Tories and Labour. Like it or no, the minor players are exactly that, serving to muddy the waters and satisfy egos.

The weather, a perennial British distraction, has played a role this year. I usually refuse to campaign in the rain: I think it can make you look desperate, and what use is soggy material? I work full-time, and it seems to me that it has rained more often in my spare-time than not recently. This has necessitated a very wet Julian at times, especially this last weekend.

I fear the weather for tomorrow. Low turnout is a recent feature of local elections, and the damp will be no inducement for some voters to do their civic duty. I suspect that low turnout is what many Tories will be hoping for; aside from my obvious bias I want high turnout because I believe in democratic engagement.

All voices are important, all voices are equal. If you don’t vote you have no voice. I hope you will vote Labour, but I hope you will vote.