Choose wisely

Manor House, Aldridge

Aldridge Manor: from the Flickr photo stream of PBBryars.

Today, there is a council by-election in the ward of Aldridge Central & South, brought about by the sad passing of longstanding councillor Tom Ansell. This election will be interesting in a number of ways – although usually a safe Tory seat, it will be intriguing to see how the other parties fair – particularly UKIP and Labour.

From what I can see, the major parties have been campaigning quite hard; after all, control of the council does rest on a single seat.

The election takes place against the background of the shambles caused by the botched closure and sale of Aldridge Manor Youth Centre and the subsequent car crash of public meetings and consultation.

Resident of the ward in question, and campaigner for Aldridge Manor and Walsall Youth Services in general, Linda Mason, has written a balanced, eloquent an fair appraisal of the candidates positions on the issue and surges readers to think carefully before casting their vote.

It’s a cracking post – please pop over to Linda’s blog and read it.


Click on the screenshot to visit Linda’s blog.

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14 Responses to Choose wisely

  1. ianrobo says:

    I am not expecting us to win here BUT if we did then it would mean the three indy’s at a vote of confidence that would come would have to vote against Labour to prevent us from taking control.

    In reality in an area that has had strong UKIP support for a while I think it is more likely that UKIP could win their first council seat and I can not see them teaming up with Labour to defeat the coalition so the status quo will remain but an even more knife edge.

  2. stymaster says:

    I noticed that the one candidate did the usual politicians get-out of “if you don’t like the candidates/parties, stand yourself” line which seems the standard response to any challenge. I was going to comment over there but, as per usual, Blogger lost it….

    • Blogger is the work of the devil.

      In these days of the Cabinet system, standing as an independent – unless you’re prepared to consummate a relationship with one of the main group’s leaders, as we see in Walsall – is pointless.

      I love the discussions about getting people to engage with local politics, usually dribbled out by politicians and those involved. None ever seem to entertain the possibility that the system is very, very broken.


      • ianrobo says:

        Not sure it is broken. It is not broken I believe in the singular ward/councillor level. Of the three councillors you have I usually find even if you are of a different party you can get answers (maybe not the ones you want of course !!).

        The system is broken by the cabinet system which encourages Councillors to toe the party line on issues. It was like that with the committee system but not in the same way because the bonuses etc now mean a leader or deputy can in effect be a FT politician.

        It is easy to stand as an indy in a ward it costs you nothing of course but I would never say that but if the parties do not speak for you, what is the option ?

        The BIAD (burn it all down) people forget that people will always group around certain core principles. Maybe what is needed is PR and STV ??

        • It’s broken. Look at Walsall. Permanent bickering, laissez faire ruling groups, weak opposition obsessed with fingerpointing rather than policy. Some excellent individual councillors of all parties, utterly overshadowed by party machinations.

          Walsall politics has always been feudal, tribal and negative. PR would be better, but a more democratic model than cabinet needs to be found.


          • ianrobo says:

            That is party politics for you in some ways and if you a BIAD person I would ask what the solution is. It is easy to blame the parties, some int he parties blame the media and some even blame the voters.

            I do not blame anyone, I think it is up to politicians to engage and above all be truthful. Say when we get it wrong, say when we think we have it right and ignore spin please. The issue over Bryant shows how spin simply does not work, it makes us all look the ‘same,.

            However the biggest problem I have is that I think cynicism is killing all.

            • Hi Ian

              Is BIAD a new buzzword? How quaint.

              If you read what I wrote above, you’ll see one of my main problems is the cabinet system, which has – by your own admission on a number of occasions – completely nulled councillor democracy to the point of being rubber-stamping yes men.

              The parties don’t help with constant negative campaigning and blame tennis.

              It is up to politicians – and the /system/ to engage. But that means visible democracy, demonstrating and helping the public have a real voice. What causes disillusionment is the charade of being listened to, then ignored, combined with the feeling that whoever gets in, the result ill be the same. Voters don’t care on the whole whose fault stuff is, just what’s going to be done to fix stuff.

              Cynicism is killing it – the cynicism of journeyman politicians and their opportunism. Punters see it, and wonder what the point of participation is.

              You and I have discussed many times the malaise in local politics, and you agreed with me on most of it. That’s why Pheasey can’t wait to get into Brum, to be shot of Walsall.


  3. Rob says:

    Looks like the people have spoken and they’ve “chosen” the candidate who was quite adamant regarding his intentions “Committed to close the ‘not fit for purpose’ Manor House” so no ambiguity there.
    Local democracy in action.

    • Hi Rob

      Glad you could manage it without the nastiness this time.

      Local democracy, let’s look at that shall we?

      Out of 10,964 registered to vote, the Tories held it with 1254 votes. That’s 11.4% of the electorate.

      From the 23% turnout, the Tories scored 49.66% of the vote, so the majority of the electorate didn’t vote for the winning party, and the majority of the 23% who did vote, voted for someone else.

      Roll on proportional representation.


      • Rob says:

        I half expected something like this.
        It’s the usual response when the “wrong” candidate is successful but never gets a mention when the “right” man wins.

      • njhag says:

        It really is staggering that there is such a low turnout when there is a big local issue to be fought for.
        Is it just simply that people aren’t interested/not bothered? Or is there something else to blame.
        Would love to know the age demographic of that 23%.

        • ianrobo says:

          the same as most local elections – I would imagine most of those were over 50 and possibly over 65. This would be even more so somewhere like Aldridge than say compared to other wards. Therefore as you may hint the issue of youth provision is not going to be an issue that gains any traction in that demographic.

          the issue with politics is that my age group (40) and below are the ones who are not engaging with politics. you can blame many issues for this but the parties and system have to understand why.

          It is part of a reason why all the cuts have fallen on working age people and families and dare suggest a cut that affects the older population and no party will do this. Yet the more the younger people do not engage the more they will be hit as their influence wanes.

          • Hi chaps

            Ian is quite right.

            As I said above, there are are many decent, fine, hardworking councillors. But it’s all hampered by the way local government is run (the cabinet system, introduced by Labour IIRC) and party politics. Also, the noose tightening from central government means whoever is in charge, much the same stuff will happen.

            To me, it’s simply that to many people, local elections are not seen to change anything. I’ve voted in every election I can – local and national – since I was 18. My vote never made a jot of difference.

            I’m a firm believer in PR – it’s interesting that in countries where we espouse democracy, we create proportional voting systems, but in the UK they’re touted as bad.

            It’s a fact that the political system and parties are not engaging, but again, they’re all seen as the same. It’s time really, for parties (nationally) to stop being faint shades of central, and stand by policies.

            Local politics is no longer seen as a vehicle for change, sadly. When I look back at what Aldridge & Brownhills UDC achieved, I can understand the apathy, to be frank. But you know as well as I do that should Labour take Walsall in May, they have exactly the same cuts to face. 100 million over five years may set the right-wingers of into a frenzy of excitement, but it’s going to be carnage to services and the local economy. When Bird says it’s wrong, we really do have a problem.

            Meanwhile, people just shrug and get on with it.

            As to the local issue to be fought for, nobody was offering to save the Manor. There were gestures on both sides, but as Linda pointed out, they meant little in terms of actual commitment. Labour were never going to win that seat, and what’s interesting to me is that UKIP cannibalised not just Liberal, but the Labour vote. Odd, because I heard that the UKIP people were not coming over well on the doorstep and Labour were campaigning very hard there.

            We live in interesting times.


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