......or out of it, as the case may be.
Passed a pleasant half-hour at the hustings earlier this month. Our local tennis club was transformed for the day into a polling station simply by furnishing the clubhouse with a couple of trestle tables, some pencils and some rather flimsy voting booths. I am not sure if there had been a rush hour, but at the time I turned up I was the only voter making my mark (two marks, actually). However, there were a few people hanging about in holiday mood, and we enjoyed a bit of cheery badinage, steering well clear of political dispute, which might have led to unseemly behaviour or even fisticuffs, and concentrating more on critical evaluation of the names of the candidates for the ten MEP seats in the south-east.
The general consensus was that something called the Christian Party/Christian Peoples Alliance (who offer "a broad range of God-fearing policies") had the edge for originality. Putting up candidates called Je-Ran Cherub and Christabel Maclean-Bacchus may not have got them many votes, but suggests that they are at least an interesting and unusual bunch of people.
Nearly all the other names on the long ballot-paper were totally forgettable, which may have been one of the factors contributing to the very low turn-out. The Labour party did include one memorable name: whether one votes for him or not, who could ignore or forget someone called Silke Thomson-Pottebohm?
Such considerations are frivolous; what we should study are the candidates' policy statements, so that we know just what we are voting for and not merely who. Sadly, these were mostly banal and without much sparkle, the only exception being that composed by Jean-Louis Pascal of Reading. He has stood locally several times before, representing the Roman party (?), and is said to be a French bus-driver (? again) and a very nice chap. Here is his manifesto from the 2007 local elections:
In my first election of Reading on BBC Berkshire I suggested we should consider moving British jail to other Eastern European countries to run at less costs for the British tax payers we could seek permission of Vladimir Putin President of Russia. the reason for this is most British jails are run like hotels and sanctuaries. They are able to gain degrees without paying funds out of this type of education, yet we have school leavers and their families paying a substantial amount of money and also finding them selves in debt. This is some thing I feel need to be changed. We also supply them with cigarettes, newspapers etc.
-As For young offenders who disturb the community and rebels that break windows, create fire, and delinquents will be sent for 6 months in military for discipline and respect and learn how to live in society. I will use the military territorial barracks of Oxford Road in Reading. We could approach the Ministry Defence and local authorities for disused sites.
The money we save on jail overseas will be used for NHS and to care about elderly people who want to stay in their home and to have the same care than in hospital until a critical level of sickness. These are strong factor that need to be looked at by the government and local councils.
To put down the deficit of NHS we have to create an health option and also eliminate the salt in any food on the supermarkets in the process food.
Last summer there was a water restriction because we had a shortage of water in the reservoirs due to a lack of investments because we need a larger water systems rather than profit going to big fat cat. We must use this formula for the shortage of houses to let our children to gain access onto the properties ladder. So vote a law against 'gazumping'. Put the first buyer a priority to buy a house and decline any investors gaining more than three properties. I understand we all need to make a living. Not this 50/50 share home. But a low set price to those seriously first time buyers. All that until the house market takes a normal graphic of demand and quantity.
When a political leader leaves his position, he should leave copies of up to date accounts of all expenses occurred and how much debts he left to the country. Those things should be published in the local newspapers.
No politician should have access to pension funds to pay for any taxation or reduce the pension fund of the citizens of this country.
All Military Personnel must be bought back to our Home Land because its not in the interest of this country to be Involved.
I fear some of his ideas were not too well thought through, but he does sound like a nice chap and I was pleased to hear later that several people had voted for him.