Tomorrow I’m voting for the second time in my life

Tomorrow I’m going to vote. For the second time in my life.

The first time was about 40 years ago, so I’m not sure how it works these days. I guess some things won’t have changed much. There’ll probably still be people milling about outside the polling station with rosettes in their lapels, exchanging a bit of political banter, clip boards at the ready.

I seem to remember having to run the gauntlet of people like that going to vote in Woodhouse all those years ago: members and would-be members of the councillors’ club, the foot soldiers of representative democracy, the party faithful, salt of the earth.

Tomorrow is their special day. I hope they enjoy it.

For them and for us, once the weekend’s over it will be business as usual.

Private meetings in back rooms

On Tuesday the councillors will be back at “work” in the Civic Hall, holding private meetings in back rooms to decide who runs the city and how.

On Wednesday they’ll be back rubber-stamping policies for Leeds that never appeared in any manifesto. Policies written by some unelected council employee.

On Thursday they’ll be back in their partnership meetings with the captains of local business, drafting begging-bowl bids to Whitehall for cash for “sustainable growth” projects that have been magicked out of a consultant’s hat.

On Friday they’ll be voting through some shiny new hotel in mock Portland stone for the Arena quarter, or a piece of “public realm” art commissioned by a shopping centre developer from Kensington.

Listening about the bins

In 10 days time they’ll be back on Radio Leeds, listening compassionately to our complaints about the bins.

In 12 they’ll be back in their scrutiny committees doing their version of accountability, voting down challenges to decisions because the bloke who raised them is in the other party.

In 13 they’ll be back familiarising themselves with council officers’ decisions on the allocations of small arts grants to Olympics-themed community-cohesion events in some of our most deprived wards.

In two weeks there’ll be other accounts to settle: those councillors who dared to question the party’s unshakeable unity of thought on the referendum will be summoned to the Disciplinary Committee to hear their fate.

Carried? Unanimous, Mr Mayor!

In three weeks time they’ll all be back in the council chamber. Back in a public display of being at each others’ throats, oblivious to the fact that no-one’s watching or cares. Back voting with the whip rather than the conscience. Back braying at each other in feeble provincial imitation of what the big boys do in London.

And in an orgy of self-congratulation and relief they’ll probably vote through a motion commending the people of Leeds for their eternal common sense.

Carried? Unanimous, Mr Mayor!

If these councillors and their party pals are outside the polling station when I go tomorrow, like they were 40 years ago, I’m not returning their democratic grins. I’m walking straight past them with my pathetic little protest vote and dropping the card that says YES into the slot in the box.


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2 Responses to Tomorrow I’m voting for the second time in my life

  1. gabriel tonka says:

    very nice..

  2. Anne M says:

    Back to business as usual by Tuesday? Same old same old? Parties who long ago stopped really listening or caring? Councillors who think they have some divine right to be there?

    Vote for change, then. New faces, enthusiasm. Real concern for our city and our country.

    Vote UKIP.

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