(Interim comments) on the options for my ward in Hastings
There are, according to the council nominations list, five candidates for my ward in the May 5th council elections. Like many people, I’ve lost faith in party politics so I decided (also like many people) to make my own list of questions to ask candidates who came to the door, and/or check out their leaflets and track records to see if they fit my idea of a good candidate. I didn’t want to just focus on one issue, though.
My questions were:
1. What will you do to protect our population from austerity?
2. How far will you go to fight off government destructiveness?
3. What will you do to preserve our NHS services and facilities?
4. Do you get the women’s rights campaign, and how can you help?
5. Have you signed this? (This being a letter that was going around in support of refugees, and repudiating the government’s idea of sending them to Rwanda).
I have seen neither leaflets nor doorknockers from three of the candidates so, for the moment, my ward is a two-horse race to me. The choices are Nicholas Davies and Margi O’Callaghan.
Deeds and words – check their track records!
Well, I already knew that both Margi and Nick were good on the first three issues. I know them both, because they’ve both been active on socialist agendas in my town. Margi has been a local councillor before, and has some particularly good ideas about housing – top of the list being that we need council housing to rescue people from some of the worst issues in our town. In the meantime, she’s keen to support genuinely local, genuinely practical housing association projects. Nick also supports social housing, and has been out on anti-austerity and pro-NHS demos around the town countless times, so I’m very familiar with his views on those issues. As his leaflet states, he was also active on anti-academisation in local schools, and the RMT’s ‘keep the guard on the train’ campaign. Both candidates are adamant that we need to remove this austerity-loving, resource draining government.
NHS, and A neighbourly recommendation
Margi also had a recommendation for the residents of Baird ward, near where I live – apparently their Labour candidate, Mike Turner, has done a lot of work on health in Hastings and, said Margi, is particularly good at chasing down the people whose job it is (or should be!) to allocate services and funds to NHS facilities in our town, and to keep services local and accessible. I don’t have to just take her word for this – I remember Mike being a vociferous part of the campaign to keep our walk-in health centre in town so if you’re in Baird, and the NHS is on your list of priorities, vote Mike Turner!
Margi and Nick are both solidly supportive of refugees, and want people who need to come here for safety to be welcomed. Margi says it’s also important to support them to settle into the community and find their feet.
Respect my Sex
As to the women’s campaign, we need have no doubts whatsoever about Nick. I have seen him taking part in actions and meetings to support women’s rights and, as an autistic man, he has a good idea of the struggles some young people have with the sex and gender issue. Nick went so far as to send me an essay on the topic, which he’s posted as a comment on this blog post (scroll down past the main text to find the comments). Margi is fully supportive of the Equality Act 2010, with its exemptions for the nine protected characteristics, which she says she would defend, with a view to seeing all those groups well-treated in our constituency.
I am a little worried that the Labour Party, whose banner Margi is running under, have put ‘gender’ rather than ‘sex’ in the equalities statement on her leaflet, and I have to say, Nick covers a lot more local and universal issues – he addresses lack of social housing, problems with planning and land banking, the desperate need for affordable local transport, energy costs, the nightmare of our irresponsible water companies and road maintenance.
I’m not going to give a verdict here yet, just in case any other candidates make the effort in the next few days but I think it’s unlikely they’ll be up to the standard of these two. I’d be happy to have either Nick or Margi on our council.
Be a critical supporter!
This is fun – don’t just go by party lines, don’t just believe the leaflets – check out your candidates, especially think about what you’ve actually seen them doing for your town – that has to be the way to get good councillors in office.
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