All this weekend was spent in South Camberwell talking to residents about how they might vote on May 6th in local and national elections. Veronica, Stephen and I have been getting a good reaction from voters who seem to recognise the hard work we have been putting in - not only in the past few months, but since Veronica and I were first elected in 2002.
Local elections are about getting the right representatives for your local area - and in doing that there is a balance to achieve between making sure that you get the councillors who will do most for the area, and also ensuring that your political views are represented. But there is a third aspect which can sometimes get overlooked, and that is making sure that your vote makes a difference to the larger picture in the borough; that the councillors who represent you are going to make a difference to the strategic choices and direction which the council takes.
It has been very frustrating being in opposition since 2002, particularly as we have been powerless to change the structures which cause so many of the problems we experience day-to-day in our casework. For example, housing repairs on our council estates are incredibly frustrating. It seems that more often than not repairs are not completed adequately, and however loudly we protest the system for dealing with housing repairs fails to respond. So we need to change the system!
I suppose the point that I'm making is that it is incredibly frustrating working to improve peoples' lives when it has been impossible to change the structures which cause the problems which people experience.
The Lib Dems and Tories have been running Southwark since 2002. In that time I really do feel that there has been a lack of strategic or 'big picture' thinking. Yes, local politics is about my street or your street, but without a wider vision and ambition nothing can or will improve.
So I hope that voters have that third consideration in mind when they are deciding how to use their vote on May 6th.