Voting for three different parties in a year - why you should vote for your local candidate not Boris or Corbyn
PUBLISHED: 11:33 09 December 2019
It's been a busy year for voters in the UK.
First were the local elections in May where all of Suffolk's district and borough councils elected new cohorts - including those for the brand new East Suffolk and West Suffolk councils.
Then just over a fortnight later voters returned to the polling booths to take part in the European elections - a ballot many didn't think would happen with Brexit supposed to have been wrapped up in March.
Now the next general election looms and voters will be crossing the boxes for the third time in just eight months - and only two years since the last Parliamentary election in 2017.
The country has been divided since the Brexit referendum, and it has arguably made politics an even more turbulent battleground than it has in previous years.
All of that puts a premium on party loyalty.
For many voters it isn't about which name is on the ballot, it's about the party. Lifelong Conservative supporters will vote Tory, and Labour backers will vote red, as they always have.
The politics of personality and the deep political divide caused by Brexit have undermined that.
Many on the streets are saying they like their local Labour candidate, but cannot bring themselves to vote for Jeremy Corbyn. Boris Johnson is equally divisive in his approach.
And that's where the difficulty comes in knowing what you vote for.
As someone tasked with reporting on the day-to-day political scene in Suffolk, largely across the district, borough and county council chambers, I feel far more au fait with local politics than the national headlines - a stance most will not have. After all, why would you need to know about your local council or councillors unless you have a specific need?
Most can probably name the key senior members of the Labour and Conservative parties in Westminster, but couldn't name the cabinet for their council.
As such, it means people vote on a national level for a local candidate. The only people who actually vote for Jeremy Corbyn are those in his north Islington constituency. Boris Johnson only appears on the pollcards in Uxbridge and South Ruislip.
But it is precisely those big national issues - Brexit, the NHS, and the personalities of the likes of messrs Corbyn and Johnson that dictates which way people vote.
As someone much more in touch with politics locally, I find it easy to vote on the local party representation and candidates. That's not a judgement on anyone who votes with the national picture in mind - I was the same until I began covering local politics - but it makes for a much more skewed political picture.
I know who I plan to vote for come Thursday, and perhaps differently to most people it will be the third different party I vote for in the three elections this year. That's all because of voting for candidates locally instead of considering the national picture. I may not agree with a particular party's national policy, but if the local candidate is good I will still vote for them. That's because the local work is the bit I can influence.
It's indicative of how divided politics has become, and for many people traditional party politics has become too toxic to stomach.
So while listening to the usual rhetoric and promises the party leaders give in their rallies and TV debates, take a moment to reflect on your local candidates and what they have done for your area.
Do your research and find out what their background is, how knowledgeable they are about the area, what their local influence has been. After all, they are precisely the ones your vote will influence.