On June 4th we get a chance to choose our MEPs and Hertfordshire County Councillors. Anyone unable to vote in person on June 4th can have a postal vote, but applications have to be submitted to the returning officer by 5pm tomorrow! I intend to vote Green and although I am not a member of The Green Party (or indeed any political party) I have volunteered to deliver election leaflets in my immediate area. I also offered to knock on doors, so I needed to do some research first!
I live in the polling district CCD, which is in the Hatfield South division for County Council elections. There are also a couple of borough by-elections and a town by-election taking place on June 4th, but not in my polling district. If you live in Welwyn Hatfield you can find all this sort of information here on the borough council website.
So I will start off by talking about the European parliamentary elections. Hertfordshire is in the East of England constituency and elects seven MEPs. Looking at the current MEPs there are two who were elected as UKIP candidates but neither is standing this time (Tom Wise had the party whip withdrawn in 2007 and was arrested on suspicion of obtaining money by deception in 2008). Labour and the Lib Dems both currently have one MEP and they are both standing again as their party’s lead candidates (the more votes a party gets the more of its candidates are elected – they are chosen in the order they are listed and the lead candidate is the one at the top of the list). The Conservatives have three MEPs – Christopher Beazley is not standing this time but the other two are the candidates at the top of the Conservative list.
Altogether there are fifteen parties and individual candidates standing, with most parties fielding a full complement of seven candidates. Due to the current furore over MPs expenses many people may be disinclined to vote for any of the established parties. Fortunately that increases the chances of a Green MEP being elected; unfortunately it also increases the chances of a BNP candidate getting in. You might think the BNP election leaflets look fairly innocuous but the expression “wolf in sheep’s clothing” springs to mind and many people still consider them (with some justification) to be a fascist party. Interestingly, one of the BNP candidates, David Lucas, was arrested by armed police last month and questioned on suspicion of handling stolen goods.
The Green Party’s lead candidate is Rupert Read and the party only needs about 10% of the East of England vote to get him elected (in 2004 they managed 5.6%). I will be voting Green because I don’t think the other parties are serious about addressing crucial environmental issues and because I think they have the most sensible policies on many other issues (like drugs). If the Green Party were not standing I would vote Liberal Democrat.
Moving on to the County elections now. As I said, I live in Hatfield South division and my current County Councillor is Stuart Pile of the Conservative Party, who is standing again this year as the Conservative candidate. There are four other candidates standing. Interestingly the Labour Party does not have a candidate as such but Colin Croft is standing as “The Labour and Co-operative Party Candidate”. As a member of the Co-operative group I might have been tempted to vote for Mr Croft but according to the Wikipedia page the Co-operative Party seems effectively to be a faction of the Labour Party. Simon Archer is standing for the Liberal Democrats and if I wasn’t planning to vote Green then he would get my vote. Then we have Christopher Francis (the only candidate who does not live in Welwyn Hatfield) representing the BNP – you don’t want to vote for him.
My choice will be Colin Jeffrey of Stonecross Road who is representing the Green Party. Welwyn Hatfield Green Party are in fact fielding candidates in all seven County Council divisions of Welwyn Hatfield but unfortunately they do not have the resources to give them all proper support. I have only met Colin Jeffrey once but he seemed like a nice enough chap and was happy for me to canvas on his behalf – he said to tell people that he is opposed to the incinerator and development on Green Belt land. He also said that Hatfield residents are hard done by compared to those in Welwyn Garden City and he would seek to redress the balance if elected.