If anybody should care here are some of the issues that I believe are important when deciding how to vote in the local elections on Thursday.
My first thought is that, before deciding HOW to vote, it's vital to first decide TO vote. Local elections are notorious for their low turnouts and this is a serious threat to true democracy. Turnout in 2007 was 32.4%, up from 29.1% in 2004, an improvement but still nowhere near a majority of those eligible to vote. And that increase is more than explained by the increase in postal votes which bring in their own problems.
I have to say it, voting for someone is nearly always better than not voting at all in my opinion. Nothing encourages complacency, self-interest and downright corruption in our elected representatives than them knowing that they are in a safe seat and not enough people care about their poor performance in order to bother voting against them. Whatever your political views I firmly believe that just turning up for each election and voting against the current incumbent will improve the health of democracy, at least it would keep them on their toes.
So, presuming that you have decided that you are going to vote, my next piece of advice would be to be sure to avoid voting on national issues at the expense of local. It's tempting to assume that they are one and the same and, while there is clearly overlap, it's not necessarily so. For example, I believe very strongly that the biggest local issue in Nottingham City is the out and out corruption and cover up within the Labour establishment at NCC (housing scandal etc, see the blog passim) and voting Labour to teach the coalition will not solve this. I'm not necessarily saying that Labour in local government is intrinsically bad, and I'm certainly not saying that I would never vote for a Labour politician again, it's just that the current Labour establishment consists of three groups; a small controlling core that has no respect for democracy and due process, a small group of lickspittles desperately trying to get into group one and lastly, a larger group of useful idiots/vote fodder who do as they are told regardless.
Again, I should emphasis that this is not a syndrome that is exclusive to the Labour Party, I firmly believe that if the Green Party won three elections in a row you'd end up with a very similar situation but with different colour hats. You'd probably find a lot of the same names as the politicos changed allegiance to the party that could deliver them into power. The important thing here is that when these cliques do establish themselves the important thing is to bring them down.
So for me at least I will not be looking to vote against the Lib Dems simply to punish them for selling their national souls to a poor-hating disablist right wing government. Locally they have been effective constituency representatives and sources of opposition, their effectiveness limited mainly by their numbers. The Tories are a little different of course, while they have taken on certain issues such as the Radford Unity Complex but I'm quite sure that was for cynical electoral reasons as they were targeting the Nottm South seat in the general election at the time. If a comment on Alanadale's blog from one of the candidates in Radford and Park ward is anything to go by they still see some mileage in this issue yet. In power, the Tories wouldn't give a shit about RUC but most importantly, everybody who's nice hates Tories anyway, that's just a fact.
So, to be a bit more prescriptive and specific, I've made no secret in the past that I strongly believe that a Green Party presence on NCC would be a good thing and if you are lucky enough to have a candidate in your ward I would urge you to vote for them. Those against Tesco on Eastside might want to look at Dave 'Lord Biro' Bishop in Dales ward too. In Basford, former Labour councillor Mick Newton is standing as an independent and seems to be good at getting stuck in to local issues so he will probably get one of my votes.
But in the end I suppose that it is pretty much inevitable that there will be a Labour majority in the end so what to do? My personal opinion is that a 'decapitation' strategy is the best bet i.e. get rid of those who are at the top of the dodgy clique. Luckily, we have already seen the last of Hassan Ahmed for a while so the priority is to get rid of JoCo and Graham Chapman. If you live in either St Anns or Aspley ward I implore you not to vote for these two even if you are a Labour supporter, their removal will result in an immeasurably improved local Labour Party I'm certain. We can but hope...
So that's what I think, see you at the ballot box.