You couldn't necessarily be blamed for not noticing, but there are local elections tomorrow. You remember, it's why the kids are off school. I might sound slightly cynical, but I actually believe local elections are, or at least should be, quite important and that we should be concerned about the outcomes and what they mean. Local councillors really can make a difference to what goes on outside your front door, and so it's rather silly not to pay attention. I've actually been considering who to vote for pretty seriously from some weeks.
Here in Moseley and Kings Heath ward, there are seven candidates. One each from the three major parties, Conservative, Labour, and LibDems, plus candidates from the Greens, Respect, UKIP, and BNP.
As ever, the BNP candidate clearly isn't interested in the ward and is just standing to the BNP can tout they stood a full slate of candidates in the city. Interestingly though, last year the BNP fielded the only candidate who wasn't from round these parts, while this year both Respect and the Greens have had to reach out for candidates. The Greens are also fielding a full slate, but traditionally, Moseley and Kings Heath have pretty good for them so I'm surprised they couldn't raise a local candidate. Respect fields a handful of candidates, in and around Sparkhill where they have a councillor, so again I'm surprised they couldn't find a candidate from with the ward.
I can tell you this stuff, by the way, because I've actually gone looking for it. If I'd based my information on the election leaflets through my door, I'd only know about three candidates; Gaston for Respect, Howells for Labour, and Judges for Conservatives.
The Respect leaflet, printed as ever on expensive high gloss paper, was, as I recall, a generic vote-for-me-I'm-radical-I-am-I'll-stop-the-war-and-everything leaflet. If it omitted the detail about the candidate being a former priest you probably could have used it in any ward in the country. Pleasingly though it was largely missing the pretty blatant sectarianism of previous years.
The Labour leaflet was rather anodyne, apart from the little section laying into sitting Councillor Mullaney. Mullaney, the YouTube Councillor, was recently suspended for a month by the Standards Board for "showing disrespect" to a local resident. There's some debate locally as to whether this actually true, and even if it was whether he should have been suspended for it. There's a more radical school of thought that suggests the local resident in question actually deserves several weeks of minor damage to his car and perhaps a punch on the nose, but I digress. My point is it's not a surefire vote winner.
The most recent leaflet (which arrived over the weekend and I have in front of me), delivered FREE by your local Conservatives it says here, introduces Maura Judges who describes Moseley and Kings Heath in ways nobody could possible disagree with, having "good transport links with the City centre and other areas of Birmingham", and also "you are never far from open green spaces". Thanks Maura, I don't think I'd noticed that before. Maura is also "looking forward to getting to know [...] people [...] during the Election Campaign". Best get a move on, then, because it'll all be over tomorrow. The leaflet promises more money for recycling. It's short on details and, indeed, on platitudes, but the implication is that it's more money for kerbside recycling. It seems a strange thing to focus on, because we have kerbside recycling in Moseley already. There's also mention of the below inflation council tax increase, while also promising more money for social care services, schools and libraries. No mention on what might be cut to provide that, but I guess that's to be expected.
Surprisingly, no leaflet from the LibDems, as in the past they've been campaigning machines firing out leaflets all year round. They currently hold all three seats for the ward, and their senior man Mullaney is up for reelection for the first time you'd think they'd make a bit of an effort.
So, seven candidates standing. At least two of those, BNP and UKIP, are for show. Of the remaining five, two have failed to communicate with me in any form during this campaign, while the other three have managed one leaflet each, none of which was particularly memorable. I'm taking it seriously, but are the candidates?