How do you vote when you don’t know the candidates?

In just under a week we will be asked to choose who will represent us in one of the most important parliaments for years: one that will vote on all sorts of measures to bring down the national debt and which will affect us all one way or another, and one that will make crucial decision over national security, Europe – pretty much everything really.

So what have the candidates for representing us been doing to communicate with us about their views on such important topics?

We’ll start with Kevin Barron, our MP for the last 27 years. He’s sent me a leaflet that didn’t say much, and covered nothing in depth. He has been spotted outside the Co-Op.

Lynda Donaldson (@LynDonCllr) tweets a fair bit, but largely about how rubbish she thinks Labour are, and how well her campaign is going. She also uses the phrase ‘Time for change’ a lot, but never says much about her views or Conservative Party policy. I’ve not had a leaflet from her.

Will Blair did deliver a leaflet. I didn’t know he was standing until it came. It contained exactly the sort of ill-informed, misleading unpleasantness I expected it to. I understand he has also been delivering slightly more in-depth leaflet which was illegal as it didn’t contain details of who his agent is, but I haven’t had one of those.

I’ve heard nothing at all from the other candidates.

It’s a pretty poor show really. There have been two hustings I know of, and I only know of them because I rang up to ask – and even the people in Kevin’s office didn’t know about them, they had to ask the agent and call back. The candidate for the Conservative Party and BNP didn’t attend one of them, and I suspect they were both in the day when most voters couldn’t attend. Certainly no-one went out of their way to publicise them.

As far as I know there has been no husting anywhere which has been at a time when most people can attend, and if there has been it certainly hasn’t been advertised.

I actually spoke to Kevin on the phone in the week, after trying to contact him for several months. I got to speak to him even though I explicitly told the person who put me through to him twice that it wasn’t a good time for me. Nonetheless we had some sort of discussion in which Kevin didn’t seem quite sure whether the car scrappage scheme was a policy done for environmental reasons or economic ones, but it didn’t matter as he was unable to justify using either. He was also less than clear on what benefits he thought the Identity Card scheme he repeatedly voted for would have brought, and tacitly admitted that the cards would eventually be cloned, which to my mind makes the whole thing an expensive waste of money.

The most interesting part of the conversation with Kevin Barron for me was when I asked him why the Identity Card scheme had been changed from being a compulsory scheme to a voluntary one, and whether or not that undermined whatever advantages he thought the scheme might bring. During this part of the conversation Kevin gave the reason that the legislation had been changed was that ‘people didn’t like it’ – no ideological or economic justification, just that it was unpopular. This rather suggests that the whole multi-billion pound white elephant was only conceived in the first place to be popular: if there was ideological conviction behind it then surely a strong mandate such as the Labour party had was justification enough to impose it, regardless of the perfectly valid objections that it wouldn’t work and yet was a massive invasion of privacy.

I asked Kevin if we could email about other issues I want to ask him about, but he replied that he didn’t want to as I’d put them on my blog, and he didn’t understand why I would want to put them on here.

I patiently explained to him why his views on various issues might be of interest to the voters of the Rother Valley as he really does seem to have forgotten that we exist, but he was unconvinced. I had to leave the phone conversation at that point, but promised Kevin I would email and explain further why it is important that his views are know to those he seeks to represent – hence my earlier post.

Kevin Barron has not yet replied to this message, or the follow-up message.

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12 responses to “How do you vote when you don’t know the candidates?

  1. Pantomime season starts early again at Maltby Town Council

    http://wwwbrendaabouelola.blogspot.com/2010/05/pantomime-season-starts-early-again-at.html

    (move this to MTC page if its more approriate)

  2. You are not alone in being kept in the dark about the hustings. I would have gone along if I had known about them.
    Mr Barron’s voting record is available on TheyWorkForYou.com. He comes over as lobby fodder – but somewhat toward the authoritarian side of his party.
    A more interesting picture can be found here: http://www.publicwhip.org.uk/mp.php?id=uk.org.publicwhip/member/1789#divisions
    It shows him to have strongly held views on MPs’ salaries, the House of Lords (Lord Barron of …. ?) and puppy dogs tails.
    My understanding is that he would justlike to be judged on his work on health matters and particularly his Chairmanship of the Health Select Committee. Whilst one can only applaud what he has done there, his unwillingness to condemn Homeopathy (in correspondence with myself) and other forms of quackery, puts it all into perspective.
    He makes much of the work he put in to correct the gross abuses of miners’ claim money. Well, isn’t that just him doing his day job!
    On the two matters that I did try to involve him over the last eighteen months, he did no more than go through the motions of forwarding my e-mails to other parties by post, no added-value. This, along with his angry defence on TV of the House of Commons ex-Speaker’s behaviour – defence of the indefensible in my opinion, is why I will not be voting for him.
    I have leaflets from both UKIP and BNP. Well now, – I believe that the issue of immigration is much more nuanced than they understand, – I do trust the science that indicates that Climate Change is occurring, – I do feel that leaving the EU would be a bad idea. So I guess they won’t get my vote either.
    (UKIP’s leaflet says “Say NO to wasting £45 million a day in Brussels”, and whilst I accept that they are referring to Gross rather than Net amounts, I do have a feeling that without EU Objective One incoming funds South Yorkshire would be in a far worse state today than it is.) .

  3. Kevin Barron is absolutely lobby-fodder. He very rarely rebels, and when he does it is generally when the vote is to do with his salary.

    As I have noted before, it is odd that he agrees with his party almost all the time, apart from when it affects him directly.

    https://rothervalley.wordpress.com/2009/03/17/barron-the-rebel-members-allowances-—-3-nov-2004/

    I am coming to the conclusion that he either doesn’t know, or doesn’t care much about political issues. I just cannot understand why he will not discuss politics openly with his constituents. Perhaps he will be more open now his chances of a cabinet post look likely to finally have evaporated forever.

    Personally I want a less pro-Europe Liberal Democrat party to vote for. I’ve never been convinced that the single currency is a good idea, and recent events in Greece have only served to reinforce that view. I’m also far from convinced that the money EU membership costs might not be best spent within the UK, rather than in the UK via Brussels, or that having free movement of people is necessarily a recipe for domestic happiness. That said I would rather the EU changed in nature than we left – but the currency I’ll pass on (but I’m always open to persuasion.)

    Having said all that, clearly the Liberal Democrat candidate isn’t interested in winning the seat, and Kevin is going to win anyway, so my vote is utterly worthless.

  4. A very sad reflection 156 on what appears to be a fairly general public opinion. Can we really cope with another term of Labour though ? Even if someone else was standing for Rother Valley instead of Kevin, can’t really see things being any better.

  5. I’ve met and spoken to both Kevin and Lynda. Politics aside, there is a vast difference between the two candidates. One has an arrogant and exaggerated sense of self-importance. The other is genuinely interested in the constituency and has in fact already put a lot back into the community. I’ve ignored the other candidates because they are all irrelevant.

    In my opinion Kevin Barron has done very little, if anything, for Rother Valley since he was elected. Why would he? With such a massive majority there was no need to do what he was elected to do, because it would make no difference to him being re-elected.

    I will be voting for Lynda, not because she is a Conservative, but because I honestly believe that she will be 100% more effective as an MP for Rother Valley than Kevin Barron ever was.

    For your information I have had at least 4 different leaflets from her over the past few months and her website is updated quite regularly.

    The problem with Rother Valley ,and many other Labour strongholds, is the fact that people will still vote for Labour without really understanding the consequences.

  6. @Lexia
    If Labour were putting up a different, preferably younger, candidate, I would vote Labour without a second thought, since it would show that they had managed to learn something from their past mistakes.
    Voting Conservative would probably mean that I have learnt nothing.
    I do however agree with @Dizzy that Lynda Donaldson would make an excellent constituency MP, and that is what we need, and so I’ll also be voting for her. But I’ll be more than hoping that LibDem get a high vote nationally.

  7. Just found this website/blog if anyones interested

    http://ted4maltby.blogspot.com/2010/03/ted-millward-independent-candidate.html?showComment=1272885533780#c1124405210788310810

    Not much on it yet – but no doubt we can rectify that !

  8. Thank you for the comments of support and I absolutely assure your readers as per poster in Maltby ‘You first, Westminster second’.
    Disappointed to hear that someone has not had a leaflet, I have personally undertaken numerous deliveries, Royal Mail have delivered Election One leaftlet and currently local firm Snazzle are delivering Election Two. I can confirm the latter as I have seen them doing it! However you can look at the website and please do not hesitate to contact me, more than happy to talk to anyone about anything. We have a few days left and we really can have change in Rother Valley – you can only improve the change in the area that we all care about. It is a big ‘ask’ but we can do this if we all pull together, history and a good future for all. Kind regards, Lynda Donaldson

  9. Thanks for commenting – we definitely haven’t had a leaflet, Lynda, but then our postman does have a rather scattergun approach to mail in general.

    Can I ask if you’d be prepared to go against your parties wishes if it was apparent that your constituents wanted you to, or if you felt that not doing so would not be in the interests of the Rother Valley?

  10. I have made it very clear I will always be prepared to stand by my Constituents and/or what is best for Rother Valley. Why would I want to be a representative of the people if I did not represent them? We need new politics and not the same old, lets do it!! Change Rother Valley.

  11. That is true – I saw the poster in Bramley. I was just unsure of what you would do if the demands of the local party and / or the parliamentary whips were different to the demands of your electorate.

  12. My mother always said I was an independant child, glad to say it has got worse as I have got older. I work for myself because I dont like being told what to do!!!!

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