Today's the day. After weeks of deliberating, a few weeks ago, I started to become increasingly moved by the example set by Sarah Smith, parliamentary candidate for the Liberal Democrats in Dover Deal.
Deal borders South Thanet "Kipperland". The Dover Deal constituency is one of the seats that swung to Tory at the last election. We have two women parliamentary candidates. Both of them have a hard battle on their hands. Clair Hawkins has the all-to-try-for campaign to win back the seat for Labour. Sarah is fighting the not-a-hope-in-hell one.
Why do it?
Sarah Smith is older, wiser and, you might say, really should know better. She would have been on a hiding to nothing even in 2010. Now she carries the slur of broken promises, a growing perception that this middle ground party is a party of weak, easily broken, convictions. Then you meet and hear the real person.
This is what I think should sway all of us as we think about how to vote. Of course there are policies at play and how candidates talk about them reveals a tremendous amount. Headline policies that are crowd-pleasers, easy to grasp concepts and vote winners on the “issues that concern all of us”. When you listen to your local candidates, you soon hear if there is an in-depth understanding on policy. Can they give local examples and can they talk in more detail about the policy and how it would work? Often you realise that, no, they can’t. Hence the back and forth of apportioning blame and sniping.
The drawing out of weapons on both side – how one side has no compassion and backs millionaires, how the other thinks there is a bottomless pit of money and whose policies would suffocate our businesses. All churned out time and time again and all left as platitudes banded about, never truly explored. I’ve yet to hear a response from the audience at a hustings that I’ve attended. It would take up even more time, but it might encourage all of us, as voters, if we could delve deeper instead of conjuring up all too scandalous images of flagrancy and injustice on either ends of the spectrum.
That’s why it’s important that, tomorrow, with whatever government or non-government that we wake up to, we continue to engage, step up as citizens and take part in the ongoing debates.
Stephanie Karpetas works with communities, businesses and public sector organisations,
helping shape and deliver programmes that make sustainable development feasible
and fun. Stephanie has recently set up Sustainability Connections
and is working on low carbon projects in Kent and Europe. She is a Co-founder
and Director of Action
Women! Community CIC