Keep politics out of local government! This has been a popular sentiment for years but what is the reality? Desborough Labour Party
Desborough Labour Party

There are 129 Parish / Town councils in North Northamptonshire.

In 2021 there were only elections in 17 of them and the other 112 Parish / Towns local councillors were elected unopposed.

If none of 700+ Councillors declared any political affiliation, then they might be regarded as ‘Independents’ but it is unlikely that they were all were politically impartial. The reality is that in most cases few people actually know the political preferences of each candidate and with no parties involved there is often no democratic choice for voters. It may be that in smaller communities residents have some idea who the people are who put their names forward.

But how would this work in Desborough? To start with you would need a minimum of seven candidates in each ward (Loatland and St Giles) for an election to be required. This would not offer much choice and a real democratic choice might require more like 10 or 12 candidates in each ward.

  • How would the electorate have any idea what each candidate stood for or what general principles might guide their deliberations?
  • How much would it cost for each candidate to put out a leaflet to every household? (we are not talking of a village with two or three hundred houses here).
  • How would anyone really know what political leanings each candidate might have (the last time eight ‘Independents’ stood in Desborough one was known to be a former Labour Party member and one subsequently stood as a Conservative and got elected).
  • The question may be ‘How Independent are independents?’ At least if political parties put up candidates voters have some idea what their general principles are and get some information about the candidates delivered through their letter box.

It may well be that –

  1. If you take politics out of local government you may not have any real functioning local democracy.
  2. In most cases, voters would be making choices with little or no information about the candidates.
  3. In the bigger communities, many residents could not afford to offer themselves for election.
  4. With no political party involvement, no encouragement to apply for a Postal Vote, no leaflets, no canvassing, no Polling Day reminders, etc the turnout at local elections could plummet from the current low of 20% to 30% to an even lower level of participation. Or (more likely) no elections in any Parishes or Towns.
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