Tuesday, May 01, 2007

Mmmm, choices, choices

Newbury's question the council candidates continues to thrive, yesterdays question was from Julian Waghorn, a 61-year-old retired financial analyst, and asked “What is your policy on council tax? Will you keep it tagged to inflation or below? And how do we know you will stick to your promise"; so what were the diverse answers?

Emma Webster (Conservative) “Our pledge is to keep council tax at or below inflation and our track record of delivery over the last two years demonstrates our commitment to this pledge.”

Denise Gaines (Liberal Democrats) “We are going to keep it at or below inflation for the four years. We are promising to do it and we keep our promises."

Grahame Murphy (Labour) “We would try to give best value for money, but not make any promises about reducing it"

Spot the difference? Me neither! Given that Newbury is currently a close contest between the Conservatives representing 27 wards and the Liberal Democrats representing 24, where is the choice here? If council tax is the the key issue for a voter like Mr Waghorn, and gaining a choice over the future cost of living in Newbury is a motivating factor for voting, what is the point? What happened to the Liberal Democrat council tax reform, was it edited out or has it been scrapped? Why is this down to a simple, far too similar, set of answers; but if we offer incentives more might vote - I remain sceptical on this evidence!
I am sad (well sort of) that I will be in Prague and not enjoying the excitement that is results night, though apparently results night could be elongated and a drawn out event due to the various new methods of voting and the long process of counting and verifying postal votes. Wouldn't it be great if there was a record turnout, a nation-wide excitement about the result, but it will not happen - why is that? Next post on Monday, when we know the result, how will all the gimmicks to improve turnout have worked? Well I find it interesting!

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