I’ve written before of ‘the one party state of Swanage’, the same can be applied to the Isle of Purbeck. The area in terms of local democracy is, and has been since the Danes left their balls atop the column on the Swanage seafront, under the rule of a single party, the conservatives. There has always been a very large, if not total, tory majority and I suspect pending further research there’s always been a tory mayor in Swanage. Tough Duncan, that’s democracy for you, it’s what the people voted for.
True, but a rather myopic view. It means and has meant that Swanage and Purbeck have only ever been ruled by the tories, it is a one party state. Other views, perspectives, ideas, thoughts, dreams and ideals are not countenanced. And there are many within the locale who are not of a politically conservative persuasion. Every local election has candidates representing other political parties or those who try to change things by posing as independents. The other ‘major’ parties, Labour, Liberal, Greens and ukip will just have their candidates. Independents get fired up, want to change things put themselves forward and even when well supported and popular are crushed by the tory machine.
If one cares to look at the numbers, which I did last year and will be doing so again this week, whilst the tories invariably get the most votes in any ward (Avril is currently the Labour exception) the non-tory vote can add up to more than the tory vote. So as has been suggested occasionally for parliamentary elections why don’t non-tories convene and put forward just one candidate in each ward. Perhaps if people know there is a chance of an alternative to the tories there may be larger voter turnout. We could have a new and more representative council.
I think that the odd popular, hard-working and more conciliatory tory may well keep their seats but the important thing is that we might have a council that is truly more representative and we might have a more vibrant, inclusive, fun, exciting, forward looking and prosperous Swanage and Purbeck. I’m sure that many have been dismayed at the moribund nature of our council and our representatives and wished, occasionally been energised, to do something. Oh I’m sure we would immediately hear of all the old arguments to keep the status quo (rip Rick Parfitt). I’m also sure that others in the non-tory political parties would find it anathema to work with others. But, for a moment at least, let your imagination go and imagine a community that welcomes all, creates more, does more, I could create a long of particular examples right now, I know others could too.
I will cogitate on this more over the next few days, dissect the electoral data, actually go to a Labour Party meeting and make proposals. We have a national tory government that have already eviscerated local government and things are going to get much worse in the next few years, just think of the current state of our health and social services. I think that at the very least we can change things just a little from ‘below’ by having an alternative at local level by moving on from our ‘one party state’. Here’s to hopey changey stuff.
Keep on keeping on, love Duncan.