Next month is a very important month. Next month we get to stand up and vote, make our voice heard and make our political views clear.
But before the Eurovision Song Contest on 23rd May, there is also a General Election in this country – on Thursday 7th May.
The media make a lot of noise about the headline policies and personalities of each of the main parties – but as well as them, we’re supposed to vote for someone in our area to represent us in Westminster.
To that end, I’ve started researching the candidates for the constituency I live in: Swindon North (even though, I’d argue it was more South than North). There are five of them:
Mark Dempsey (Labour)
Janet Ellard (Liberal Democrats)
James Faulkner (UKIP)
Poppy Hebden-Leeder (Green)
Justin Tomlinson (Conservative)
I’ve only voted once before – back in 2010 – and don’t consider myself aligned to any one party, so I’ve picked three questions, issues that are specific to me and the area that I live in, and addressed them to each candidate, using the email address on their party’s website. (Except in the cases of Mark Dempsey – where I got it from a leaflet that came through the door, and Janet Ellard whose profile on the Liberal Democrat page didn’t load. For her, I acquired an email address from yournextmp.com)
I’ve also chosen three subjects that – up to this point (Sunday 5th April) – have not been covered in the meda
The email I have sent to each of them is as follows:
I am a resident of the North Swindon constituency which you are seeking to represent as a member of parliament from 7th May of this year.
I am currently undecided who to vote for, so was hoping you would be able to answer three short questions which – along with the main policies of your party – will help me to make up my mind.
You should be aware that I have sent exactly the same email to each of your opponents and that I will be posting the responses to each question on my blog, for other constituents to view.
Thank you in advance for both your swift response and your co-operation.
Question 1: Culture.
Swindon is in a prime location along the M4 corridor, with easy access to London, Reading, Bristol and Cardiff, and is surrounded by some beautiful countryside. This is often the only response I can give to associates who ask me about the benefits of living in Swindon – that it’s close to lots of nice places! What can you do to make Swindon itself a nicer place to visit, and what will you do to change the image of the town?
Question 2: Transport
The Swindon to London rail route is famous for being one of the most expensive £per mile rail journeys in the country – considering that this country is known to have one of the most expensive rail networks in Europe, that’s a pretty impressive penny. What will you do to ensure a fairer price for your constituents who work in – or wish to visit – the capital?
Question 3: Business
There are quite a lot of corporations with their headquarters in Swindon: Nationwide, Intel and WH Smith to name just three. Considering that Swindon has a much cheaper way of life, but is less than an hour from the capital. What can you do to encourage companies who are looking to cut down their operational costs to relocate from London to Swindon – in the process, opening up a much more attractive job market in the town for it’s residents?
What other priorities do you have for Swindon that you haven’t already mentioned? In short, why should the people of Swindon vote for you?
I’ll post their responses as I receive them – in fact, the Conservative candidate has already replied. I’ll post his answers later.