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Opinion: Labour Says Democracy Depends on Your Vote

Published on: 19 Apr, 2019
Updated on: 17 Apr, 2019

This is the last article of a final set of opinion pieces from the five political groups which currently form Guildford Borough Council (GBC) during the period running up to the borough council elections.

We are grateful to all the participants for taking part. Our aim is to allow our readers to hear from local politicians directly and become better informed of the political choice they have on May 2. Articles from the other political groups are being published, one each day, this week. All previous articles in the series can be found here.

Brian Creese (red shirt)with the Mayor of Guildford, Mike Parsons.

By Brian Creese

Vice Chair Guildford Labour Party

We are now entering the final phase of the local election campaign for 2019; activists from all the parties have written leaflets and articles for newspapers, posed for unconvincing pictures with their rosettes, knocked on endless – usually un-answering – doors and are readying themselves for “one last push”.

I believe I am speaking for all parties in saying that what is most depressing is not meeting the convinced political opponent on the doorstep, but rather the utterly unengaged. Some recent responses I have collected from door knocking have included, “Sorry mate I’m waiting for a Nando’s delivery” and “I‘ve got a party to go to this evening.”

You could see this as a welcome breath of fresh air, telling us that most people are not so concerned about politics as we are, but politics is important for everyone and pretending these are not political elections helps no-one.

For many newly engaged activists, the issue that overrides everything else is planning, local housing targets and preservation of the green belt – all political issues. There would be no green belt without previous highly political decisions, and planning laws are highly political.

Local provision for the homeless is political, as is the state of the High Street and how much support the council should provide for the retail sector. Support for arts and cultural facilities like G Live is political as is the possible replacement of Guildford Spectrum.

Provision of public transport and local levels of air pollution are political questions. And if we look slightly wider to the County Council responsibilities, the closure of children’s centres and recycling centres and the perennial issue of potholes and roads are all issues which require political solutions.

Guildford Labour Party has clear views on all these issues set out in our 16-page manifesto. We argue that our views are coherent, compassionate and can help the least well off in our town and surrounding villages.

We want to see more affordable homes, more social housing, more support for those in private renting and a “no second-night” policy for the homeless; more support for cheaper, more efficient and greener travel across the borough.

We will breathe new life into the town centre by supporting independent shops, cultural activities and community resources; and we think it is time that Guildford council became more transparent and democratic, committed to work for all the community, not just the few.

We want to argue about our priorities with people who might think we have them wrong. We want to explain how our policies will make a real difference to the people of this borough. But we can’t argue with someone who says, “Me, I don’t vote. Not interested.”

So, my message is simply, please do use your vote. Vote for the party you truly believe in, the policies you think are best. Your vote does matter and you can change the way this borough is run.

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