Democracy only works when citizens are involved.

The Government have announced that the local elections, postponed from May 2020, will go ahead this May. But due to the pandemic volunteers from political parties will not be able to distribute leaflets. They can, however, pay a delivery company to do this for them. This will give parties with rich individual or corporate backers a massive advantage over others, particularly small parties and independent candidates. This of course is exactly what Boris Johnson wants!

We are currently facing three interlinked crises. Each crisis on it’s own has the potential to destroy our civilisation. The Covid pandemic, the climate crisis and the ecological crisis are all hitting us at the same time. Never before have we so desperately needed politicians with a vision to bring systemic change to our society as it is very clear that business as usual is leading us to disaster.

So I am writing this letter to make an appeal both to the Sheffield Star and Telegraph, and to local organisations.

To the newspapers, I really want you to step up to the challenge of covering these elections thoroughly. Investigate the policies of the parties and the personalities of the candidates. We don’t want to elect people like the bullies who have recently been given so much publicity on Handforth Parish Council. Those like me that sometimes attend Sheffield City Council meetings will be very aware that such behaviour also happens in our chamber.

To local organisations I want to ask you to consider hosting a local hustings. Please get in touch with your local candidates and invite them to a Zoom meeting. All you need is someone to handle the technology and a good chairperson to keep the meeting in order. Ask your members to come up with some questions and see what the candidates have to say for themselves. Record the meeting and post it on your website if you have one, and on social media, so others can find out about their candidates.

Many of the candidates that stand in local elections are not serious. They are called paper candidates and are only standing to ensure the party has a “full slate”, to give the party more publicity. These candidates probably wont turn up to the hustings.

Those that are serious will turn up and you will discover if they have the vision, talent and skills to represent us and change our city for the better. Democracy only works when citizens are involved. Let’s make these elections a turning point for our local democracy.

References

May 2021 polls delivery plan

https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/may-2021-polls-delivery-plan/may-2021-polls-delivery-plan

“Read the standing orders” Handforth Parish Council

https://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/video/2021/feb/05/chaotic-parish-council-zoom-meeting-viral-handforth-video

A momentous Council Meeting

http://archive.sheffieldgreenparty.org.uk/2017/04/10/a-momentous-council-meeting/

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