Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.
Well, that was an interesting General Election!
Especially here in the Medway Council area, where both parliamentary seats contained wholly within this area came within a hair's breadth of electing Conservative MPs, we witnessed a dramatic change in the electorate's preference. Indeed, it was only the old unchanged constituency boundaries that saved both the Gillingham and Medway sitting MPs from being ousted—a situation reproduced (though not so closely!) in many other areas of Britain.
Even in the third seat of Chatham and Aylesford, half of which lies outside the Medway Towns, the sitting MP's majority was almost halved—a terrific achievement for a Conservative candidate standing for the first time against the sitting MP. It is rare indeed for a first-time candidate to take a seat on the first attempt, though the result in my ward (Rochester South and Horsted) would, if replicated throughout the constituency, have meant a decisive win for Anne Jobson. Now that is quite something to realise!
Turnout was over 60% in all three constituencies here, which realistically is as much as anyone might have expected in the present climate where there are so many excuses for not voting at all. There are many who believe that not voting is somehow "making a statement"—well, to be fair to those folk, there is something in what they have stated (especially in public forums such as the UK political newsgroups) though all they achieve in practice is to be ignored by the political parties at election times. They simply count for nothing, which is perhaps a shame but what else can be done about them?
As always, I enjoyed the whole business of the General Election immensely, and was pleased to be able to go out on the doorstep and leafleting throughout the entire period, including on Polling Day itself. I love Telling at the Polling Station, and try to bring a very positive and warm feeling to the proceedings by how I treat those entering (whom I greet, and assist if they look lost) and leaving. It is a wonderful time for me; and the various other activities during the day give variety and a real buzz to the event.
For all its faults (and there are a fair few!) our electoral and governmental systems are vitally important. Whatever one might think of how it all works at any particular time, all one needs to do is try to imagine what this country would be like if we didn't have these principles and practices firmly embedded in our way of life to realise just how precious our democracy is, warts and all.
This is why, for example, despite the disappointment of the three results (especially when two came so close) I never lost my smile. As far as I am concerned, the people have spoken, and that's good enough for me. We shall survive the next four or five years, and the indications are strong that the government will be forced to buck up its ideas hugely or face losing the next election. They have seem the writing on the wall.
Either way, the country wins, although not necessarily very quickly. Overall, though, it's a win-win situation!