If 50,000 people in Croydon North don’t vote…

By - Friday 16th November, 2012

….ask not “why do so few people vote?”, but, “why so many?”

The Croydon North electorate in 2010 numbered 85,216. Normally a By-Election of produces a turnout of 20% lower than then General Election, this suggests that 41% will vote on November 29th. It also suggests that 50,000 people will not vote. More often than not they feel the outcome of an election will have little bearing on their lives. More often than not they’re right.

The unbreakable rule for most of the 35,000-odd who do vote will be that our forefathers fought and died for our right to vote and the suffragettes had to fight our forefathers for that same right. To not cast your vote is an insult to all of them. Just as well that this emotional blackmail will get us to the ballot box because what else would?

Well, this by-election is getting a lot more interesting than we might have expected.

I’m not sure how active social media was, particularly twitter, prior to the 2010 General Election. Certainly, the current ability of the political-curious to engage with others, either directly on twitter, or get if off your chest in a blog post should help voters engage with the politically active. The impact will be interesting to see. The impact may be zilch but that too would be interesting.

Malcolm Wicks, we can all agree, was a lovely individual and the massive majority he earned it 2010, despite the frenzy of anti-Gordon Brown sentiment sweeping across the country, remains a fitting tribute. Since then, with both the Conservatives and the Lib-Dems in Government, the pieces should, in theory, be in place for an even greater majority coming Labour’s way.

The Conservatives have chosen well in Andy Stranack. “If the people of Croydon North want a ‘lovely individual’, we’ll give them a ‘lovely individual’” seems to be the philosophy.  However the advert of the Prime Minister selling arms in the Middle East while wearing a red poppy is no doubt intended to provide a timely reminder of what the Conservatives stand for. (And accepting money from Wonga.com.) (And the whole ATOS thing.) (Sorry, we’ll move on.)

Much like Ed Miliband trying to distance himself from the previous regime, Labour’s candidate is a break with the past. No wise statesman adored by his public here. Members of the Lambeth United Housing Co-op who are fighting eviction from their communities look on the Croydon North by-election with mixed feelings. One would imagine they will be glad to be shot of Steve Reed but are already feeling sorry for us. We won’t know what we are letting ourselves in for until it’s too late, they seem to say.

It does seem like some sort of clerical mix up has placed the 2 candidates in the wrong parties and it is delightfully amusing to see the more vocal supporters on both sides carry on as normal.

A plague on both their houses I say. I’ll be voting for the Green Party candidate Shasha Khan as an alternative to the blinkered policies of Conservative and Labour Neo-liberalism. After the dotcom stock market bubble burst in 2003 we all shook our heads and pointed and said “Did you really think it could just go forever?” The great money giveaways that preceded the credit crunch went unchecked because everyone was getting rich as long as everyone kept their mouths shut. Those chickens came home to roost.  Hurricane Sandy slapped a nice little “told you so” to the anti climate change lobbyists who see climate change as a threat to their business interest. It’s time to take stock.

For me, it’s about putting myself on the right side of the argument. It’s easy to carry a placard saying “No more cuts” but it’s an empty gesture without an alternative plan. The richest 1,000 people in the country have increased their wealth by £155,000,000,000 in the last 3 years, while the rest of us see incomes stagnating and services being cut back. Neither the Conservatives nor Labour have the guts to deal with this shocking imbalance. This is no communist manifesto, but we all need to understand the unpleasant realities in order to work towards a more trusting society.  Would you put such inequality into your plan for a community? Of course you wouldn’t.

I believe the Green Party have both conscience and the commitment to redress illogical situations like these.   The full range of Green Party policies are too long and involved to go into here, of course, but there is a consistency within those policies that really does put the needs of society ahead of the balance sheet of multi-national corporations and their lobbyists. I believe the Green Party have picked a candidate in Shasha Khan who has a fantastic track record in dealing with local issues in depth. I believe he would be a shining light, a Green Knight, in Westminster.

So I will be voting, not to honour any forefather or foremother, but for someone who has consistently earned the right to my vote.

Brendan Walsh

Brendan Walsh

Balham born but raised in Cork in the Republic of Ireland, moved to London permanently in 1994 and lived in Stockwell before settling in Thornton Heath in 2000. A Civil Engineer with unhealthy interests in DIY, CPFC and Irish Cricket. In 2009, swapped shouting at the TV for political activism. Went straight from omnivore to vegan in 2010 for a one month long experiment and haven’t looked back. Currently Tweeting on behalf of the Croydon Green Party.

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  • http://twitter.com/NeeseyMasood Aneesa Masood

    hi would you be interested in recording a vox pop about your opinion on the croydon by election for http://www.newsflare.com?