Thursday, 9 May 2013

Post Suffolk County Election Reflection

I've learnt in the last few years to reflect on situations and events, especially in politics before making comment. A week is a long time in this arena and often something that seemed detrimental is forgotten quite quickly. So I have given myself time to rest up from the campaign and to think about my special ward Stoke Park and my important work within it.

First of all I would like to show gratitude to all those that voted for me - Thankyou.

The Chantry result was no surprise to any of us. We fully expected Labour to regain the seat that Paul West won at SCC elections 2009. Chantry includes Gipping which is a very safe borough seat for Labour.

What I think surprised all of us is how well UKIP did, especially the fact that they gained a seat in Ipswich.

So I tried to put myself in the shoes of the electorate to work out why they would pick a candidate that:

Had not delivered a leaflet - certainly not to the people I spoke to anyway.
Had not done any work for the community, past or present
Did not knock on doors to show his character or explain beliefs and values
Had so little interest that he didn't even turn up at he Count!

Let me start with the last point. When I first started out in politics, about 10 years ago, I stood in what's known as a straw seat, (not winnable) in Gipping. This was to give me experience before I stood in my own ward where I lived and still do - Stoke Park. My first count was one of the most exciting things I had done for years and I still love it! So who was this candidate that he couldn't even get to the most important part of the election campaign? I'll leave you to think about that.

To the residents who voted for an invisible UKIP candidate (either Labour or Tory residents, because in fact more labour supporters voted for him than Tory as the analysis at the count proved itself to my helpers) I would ask - Why? This is not an accusatory Why but a really curious Why? These are local elections that bring people in to represent you on local issues, not national policy.

Why would people mix up national policies with local policies just to show how displeased they are with EU and immigration? To the people in north Ipswich who gave a seat to UKIP - Why risk a really good proven councillor who worked hard for you to replace them with a one trick pony who might not do one single bit of hard work in your community? Surely at the very least, you would've wanted to see him at your door, telling you what he will do for the community, even if he hadn't been a councillor before that?

Now don't get me wrong - this is every person's prerogative - but then they have to understand that if they continue to vote someone in that does nothing, other than ride on the back of a national issue, it will only encourage more local politicians to just give you headlines, soundbites, scaremongering leaflets or empty promises.  In other words people will get what they deserve!

I will be watching the new UKIP councillors, in Suffolk, very closely to see if they even have a clue how to represent the people of Suffolk and do all the necessary hard work. Being a councillor takes up hours and hours of our time each week. It is not easy - have they really got the skills needed and have they entered local politics for the right reasons or is it just to build up traction for the General Election?

It's up to us to prove to you all how hard we work in our wards. I must admit, I've not been brilliant at communicating this in the written form because I put working for the residents to solve their problems as a priority, not the shouting about it afterwards. And not everyone is on twitter or follow my blog which is my preferred way of communicating. However, I will have to find more ways of regular contact.

I want Stoke Park residents to know how much I care about them, that they can rely on me for a thoughtful and prompt response, as many others can already testify to.

You tell me what you would like to see from me, tell us what we can do to enhance our communications. Do you like leaflets? More knocking on your door (which I try to do all year round and not just at election time)? Surgeries? or even 'No thankyou - I know where you are if I need you!'  Let me know please.

Communication is a two way thing and although I know people are fed up with politicians,  at a local level most councillors are genuinely interested in helping people and get pleasure in making a difference, whether its just as a sounding board, a person to use to kick someone into action or a champion who will make the right decisions for their areas.

So once again Thankyou to those who voted for me - I know that you know & understand! I continue to be your borough councillor and

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