Brighton’s Mr Pickwick, Christopher Hawtree, has taken me and the tone of this blog to task. Following a genial evening in the pub with Dan Wilson, he commented: “We agreed that the Election, so far, does not have a great deal of fun about it. Perhaps this is the nature of the times; perhaps it is the systems of campaigning; perhaps it’s the winter. We also agreed that, in such fora as this one, it can seem the stuff of banter – predictions being akin to hoping to nudge pennies from a moving shovel in a Palace Pier arcade’s glass case – but in fact it is people’s lives: I came back yesterday evening, the mind full of sometimes harrowing stories heard on doorsteps or from people who had asked me in. People sometimes jeer at Councillors as a bunch of freeloaders but I should say that in almost any area a Councillor who gives his or her time to it has quite a load. And, in the nature of things, that sort of work is not made public.”
Green Chris and Labour Dan are absolutely correct. Politics is serious business. The decision of the electorate will decide which party will dominate Brighton politics for the next four years, and the decisions of our new leaders will have an impact on the lives of hundreds and thousands of people. As an activist, I too have heard many harrowing stories on the doorstep. I have seen how people’s lives can be blighted by a bad decision here, or improved by a good decision there. A councillor who can work with officers to deal with a noise complaint can see an immediate improvement in the lives of neighbours.
I have an ex who was a county councillor for a while and I am aware of how hard councillors do work and how much of what they do is unrecognised and unappreciated. While I might take a light-hearted view of election campaigns, and make irreverent reference to Momma Grizzly, the Estate Agents, the Wise Owl and even Mr Pickwick, this blog aims to encourage interest in local politics. Sometimes serious, more often light-hearted, I will continue in a similar vein unless enough of you ask me not to.