As a common youth, it is all too easy for me to fall into the trap of thinking that local elections do not matter. My university provides almost all of my institutional requirements, and the rest are fulfilled by my parents. I don’t pay council tax and I am far away enough from owning a house that housing issues appear to not affect me at all. So why will I be voting on the 3rd of May? Why will I be voting for the Liberal Democrats, a party that appears to be constantly followed by a barely hidden snigger whenever mentioned?
Local issues matter. They matter a great deal in Barnet, a place that I am proud to call home.
The Conservatives have overseen Barnet for many years now and have proceeded to consistently dismantle and outsource. Their favourite partner, Capita, has recently faced deepening loses, and is now forced to seek £700 million. Yet, they hold many 10-year contracts within Barnet. This deeply worries me; the Conservative complacency is incredibly infuriating. Under the authority of the local Conservatives, it feels as though Barnet is sleepwalking towards a sudden halting of all local services should Capita’s situation become increasingly dire.
If I am so opposed to Conservative rule in Barnet, then the obvious answer is apparently to vote Labour. I refuse to do this. Local branches across London try to distance themselves from the national Labour Party but I still refuse to give consent, even tacitly, to Jeremy Corbyn. His acrimonious antisemitic actions, and his wilful, and potentially purposeful, ignorance of the systemic problems he faces within his own Party render him, by virtue of their very facts, completely and entirely unsupportable. I refuse to take part in the confidence boost that he will surely get when Labour sweeps council after council in London.
The Liberal Democrats are the only party that are unsullied by undesirables within their ranks on a broad scale (David Ward was swiftly expelled from the party when it came to light that he had made deeply troubling comments towards Jews). I support my local Liberal Democrats in their efforts to fully and completely scrutinise relations with Capita, as well as to maintain and improve public service provision. The Conservatives want to turn Barnet into a no-frills “easyCouncil”. The Liberal Democrats want to make to make Barnet better.
Local elections are often viewed as national opinion polls, despite there being notoriously low turnout for them. The Liberal Democrats, for certain, are the only party that clearly stands firmly against Brexit and the disasters that it will continue to present for British life for decades into the future in every Brexit scenario. Dr. Swati Dhingra, in a well-publicised recent paper, demonstrated that locally in the event of a likely Hard Brexit, Barnet will grow below trend economically by 2.5%. Barnet needs this growth, and by voting Liberal Democrat, I am doing everything in my power to show the Conservative that I will not blindly accept whatever David Davis is presented with.
Local elections matter for a whole range of reasons, and I strongly encourage you to vote, and to vote Liberal Democrat.
Noah Austin - University of Bristol