Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.
Three little crosses can mean so much. For teenagers (and beyond, no doubt!) they can be a sign of affection, they have been used to indicate a container of brandy or rum, and there are other applications around the world for this simple sign.
On 3rd May, though, they will have a very special significance in our ward and in a number of other Medway wards. This is Polling Day in the 2007 local elections. Three crosses will count towards electing three representatives of (and, ideally, from) the community in three-member wards, and similarly two crosses will do the same for two people to represent two-member wards such as Rochester West. In Medway we even have one single-member ward—Cuxton and Halling.
It is very important to vote, and to do so properly, whatever one's views of the candidates and/or the political parties involved. Not only is this right a vital and hard fought-for privilege that the residents of many other countries do not have (and some might never achieve), there are always those in powerful positions waiting for an excuse to take it away again, at least at a local level.
Many people don't realise all that a local council does that impacts their lives and those of their friends, work colleagues and families. For example, it is reckoned that the average time it takes to go to a Polling Station to vote from home is twenty minutes. In that time, councils up and down the country will have:
Those of you who have been reading my columns for some time will be aware just how strongly I advocate community-driven governance, rather that outsiders imposing their agenda onto us. Indeed, if I were Prime Minister I'd be seeking ways to place all purely local matters into the hands of the community or communities directly affected. Apart from national or regional emergencies, I'd keep outsiders out of the decision-making process where localised issues are concerned.
It is a simple and unambiguous rule, and would apply to all outside agencies, whether they be Regional Assemblies, National Government, Europe or anyone else.
To preserve what we already have, and to give more clout to those seeking to gain more self-determination, it is essential that we show that local democracy works and is strongly supported by the communities "out here". It is the only way we can turn Britain away from its current hugely-centralised dictator-style governance and toward far more direct, local decision-making. We who are elected onto the Council will play our part; and what we do is a lot better than most people realise—don't be limited to what you read in the local rags! We do that all the time. Now it is your turn to spend just a few minutes voting—you won't need to do so again for another four years.
It is for all our futures that I say: vote at local elections, including here in Medway. We even have several Independents and a couple of smaller parties in the mix, so there should be something and someone suitable for your vote(s). Postal voting is easier than ever these days, and others can act as proxy voters should you find you are going to be away on the day, so there is no reason to miss out.
As someone once said: "Just do it!"