Monday, April 24, 2006
Tired. Very tired. And I'm on holiday.
Birmingham still maintains the practice of hanging political poster boards on lamp-posts around election time. Coventry and Solihull have recently decided to stop it and I think that's a little sad. It isn't the ego thing - although I defy anyone to look me in the eye and tell me that they don't get a little spark from seeing their name plastered along roads.
It is hard work stripping and glueing new posters to boards. It is nothing short of graft to have to trudge around the ward sticking them on lamp-posts and we could probably use the time better to talk to more constituents, but it does add something to the campaign when you see the boards blossoming along the road. I think that it reminds people that elections are around the corner - quite important when you realise that local elections don't get anything like the national focus of parliamentary polls. The number of people who stopped us today and asked what the posters were for just reminds us that there are an awful lot of people for whom politics has no relevance to their lives. Part of our job as politicians is to try and explain that link - that local elections can decide vitally important (if unexciting) issues. Your local council is responsible for things that directly impact on your life - schools, roads, pavements, rubbish collection, pest control, social care, parks and planning, to name but a few. So who runs that council is key to setting policy in those areas.
May 4 is a chance for you to have your say over who governs this part of your life. It isn't an opinion poll on the state of the government or the opposition. It should be about local issues. Are your roads in good order? Are the walls of the park covered in graffiti? How's the library service doing in your area? Whatever the issue that is bothering you, now's the time to raise it with your candidates.
Things have been surprisingly positive out there on the doorsteps. Sure, there are the voters who see this as a chance to kick the government, but there are also a fair few who are deeply upset with the performance of the Liberal Democrat/Tory council that's had a grip on Birmingham for the past two years.