Star date: 3rd May 2011


Politicians with a capital `P' are kind of out canvassing for Salford people's votes on Thursday. But is there any one candidate or political party worth voting for?

Here, Gareth Lyons, from Swinton South, gives his personal opinion on why he'll be voting `None of the Above'…

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It is said that choice is a good thing. I am, like most people, often overwhelmed into indecision when confronted with the thousands of choices we seem to have in modern life, even with the most mundane things, and I am quick to moan that there is too much choice.

You would think then, that making a selection between five choices would see me in a celebratory mood rather than coming to the conclusion that five choices is no choice at all and, in this particular case, I want a sixth choice.

You will probably have concluded, or are hoping, that my cryptic opening is leading somewhere, and it is. For I write about the upcoming Local Council Elections in Salford on 5th May. In the ward where I live, Swinton South, I have a five candidates and parties to choose between - and for me as an individual voter, for differing reasons, my five choices have become no choice!  The five parties standing are in alphabetical order:

• Conservative Party.
• Green Party.
• Labour Party.
• Liberal Democrats Party.
• U.K Independence Party.

In the last General Election I faced a similar voting dilemma, but this was on the more personal level of the candidate's behaviour. I promised myself in the polling booth as I put my cross on the ballot paper that I would never again have the same feelings of revulsion with myself when voting.

So twelve months later, here I am with one vote, five parties and no-one to vote for. I probably don't need to explain why there is no way I'd vote Conservative. I'm a union man, my father and brother were shop stewards and my grandfather who, like many in the 20s fought for workers rights, would be turning in his grave. Not to mention the fact that I don't agree with their policies.

The Green Party is next on my list. Whilst I have no problem with the party and what they stand for, my natural cynicism has kicked in. I don't know the candidate and have never met him, but having seen the antics of many politicians in the last two years I am distrustful of voting for someone who has stood on three different mandates in the last two, and this forthcoming election.

I cannot vote for the Labour Party, as on the local issues which are important to me, I feel they have shown a blatant disregard for the views of the local people and I feel extremely uncomfortable with the close cosy relationships they have with private business and the BBC.

The Lib Dems don't get my vote, not solely because of Nick Clegg because, let's be fair to him, all the Liberal MPs voted to get into bed with the Tories. But as Winston Churchill said, "an enemy of my enemy is my friend". Using that logic, `a friend of my enemy is my enemy'!

Lastly, we come to UK Independence Party. I don't fully subscribe to either the pro European arguments or the anti-European arguments so cannot vote for them because of this.

So, what do I do? Don't vote? Vote for the party I have the least problems with? I don't think any of these are acceptable. To not vote in my view is a crime. It annoys me when people who don't vote moan… `How can you?' I say `You didn't even vote'.

To vote for my least disliked party is hypocritical so therefore it leaves me with one choice and that is to spoil my paper, which I will do when I write that I am voting for "NONE OF THE ABOVE".

Yes, people argue it is a waste but at least I am making my protest known and maybe if more people in my situation do this we may have a section on our ballots to show we do want to vote but we don't feel any candidate represents us.

I am sure though that whatever the outcome of this election. Whichever of the three main parties loses seats will blame those in Westminster. Let's face it, Labour will blame `Tory' cuts, Tories will blame the previous government's `reckless' spending and the Liberals will say that this was a popularity contest and not one based on issues.

Maybe the UK Independence Party has missed a trick and should change their name and manifesto to revolve around the independence of Salford from the hands of Westminster!

With budget cuts, job losses, reductions in services, increased congestion on the Crescent, Media City, the Salford Community Stadium, school building projects, urban regeneration farces etc. There are a lot of local issues to consider. And on a national level, which does affect people's votes, there's the coalition, the sell-out of many liberal voters, the unfair distribution of cuts, Afghanistan, Iraq, Libya, immigration, European bailouts…

You would think people will be queuing to cast their vote. But I seriously doubt that this will be the case and there will be around the one voter in three turnout of previous non General Election years. We will hear the usual rumblings of voter apathy and discontent. But I doubt we will hear the reason being that there is no-one to vote for.

Maybe I am on my own in my protest and, if I am, so be it. But you will know who in Swinton South wrote NONE OF THE ABOVE on his ballot.

Come 6th of May, I will be able to hold my head up high and know I voted for what I believe in. I want a choice to make a protest on my ballot.  Maybe there is a lot of truth in the maxim we get the politicians we deserve and by protesting in this way I'm wasting my vote. I'd like to think I deserve better and have to make my own stand. 








jim devine wrote
at 3:15:30 AM on Monday, May 9, 2011
MPS were caught having drunken hopping tournament in the house of commons .......youre not the fool Mr Merry you are the clever and cunning one . Every mistaken well meaning and honourable person who feels they are doing their public duty by voting are the fools. I apologise to them for saying this but if they need another million examples to prove it I will certainly be happy to give quite a few of them.
John Merry wrote
at 4:16:02 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011
Turnout was up on 2008.
jim devine wrote
at 1:36:54 AM on Sunday, May 8, 2011
Maybe people dont vote because we perceive yous all as a bunch of self serving t@@@@. Insulting non voters as somehow to blame is deeply patronising. Give us something or someone to vote for and maybe we might just do it but i for one wont be franking a system that produces such appalling representatives bar none.......
JoeOneill Salford Green party wrote
at 1:29:47 PM on Saturday, May 7, 2011
Like Mr Behan i walked the streets of Swinton day after day putting out leaflets and contact numbers,but still only 31%bothered to vote.If you want oppostion you have to support it and if you can't be bothered to vote or spoil your papar then why bother to moan. Soon salford council will be run completly by Labour all oppostion will not exist and Cllr merry will have freedom to do what he wants.Salford Lacks jobs,homes,and a future i will continue to fight for it but perhaps the people of Salford still see politics as red and blue and groups of men and women who only come out side the town hall three weeks before may if thats waht you want then you get what you pay for,
andrew behan TUSC candidate wrote
at 6:17:33 AM on Saturday, May 7, 2011
freddie halfpenny has not had any election material through his door.Just like Langworthy.I hand delivered over 6500 leaflets in the ward over a 5 week period. From Derby Road to Albion Way From Bolton Road to Eccles New Road and nearly all in between.14 tower blocks thousands of stairs before work and after work. Am I dissapointed No just frustrated that the Labour Candidate who seems to have been very absent over the previous 4 years can just wipe aside any real alternative using the Election Machine of Labour.Join TUSC and we will crank up our own election machine in future.
Tim Roberts wrote
at 4:09:48 PM on Friday, May 6, 2011
TUSC, you need this in your life. x
freddie halfpenny. wrote
at 2:04:00 AM on Friday, May 6, 2011
An interesting article. I too live and work and employ others who do the same in Swinton South. I too will spoil my paper. My frustrations with local politics is not just the politics but the politicians. Not one piece of local election material through my door, not one knock at the door looking for my vote. The bottom line is that local politics in Salford feels dead. Labour Counsellors treat the whole thing like a done deal, the seat is theirs, there is no contest. Why? Because there is no opposition, the opposing parties are so apathetic they deserve to loose. As long as Labour candidates are enabled to stand unopposed like this they will have the confidences treat their seats as lifelong employment at the city council. They will continue to be able to do what they like regardless of the consequences for the rest of us who live and work in this City. Shame.
at 8:24:45 AM on Wednesday, May 4, 2011
I think a lot of people feel this way. They cannot vote Tory because they are working class,they cannot vote for the Lib dems because Clegg sold them all down the river and that leaves Labour (usually). Unfortunately a lot of working class people just vote Labour (Blears keep getting in as MP).But you only have to look at what this Labour council has done to realise why you should not vote for them. I think the local elections will have the usual low turnout and Labour will gain a few seats,probably at the expense of the Lib dems. Merry will gloat and say that despite the turn out, it shows that the people of Salford believe in the council. Norman Owen should show some b-lls and resign now,stating that he thinks that the Lib Dems were stitched up at a local level by Clegg. That way he can walk away with some dignity rather than Merry,s sneers ringing in his ears.
S Kingston wrote
at 11:24:36 PM on Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Virtually agree with everything Gareth has wrote, except that at least in Swinton South you have an alternative Green to protest vote for. In our ward we have nothing - three main parties who can't even be arsed answering your article, and UKIP whose attitude can be summed up by their comment on here. Looks like I'll be joining the None Of The Above lobby! Very sad. Someone give us a candidate or a party that cares!
Gareth Lyons wrote
at 1:48:36 PM on Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Thank you for your comments so far, I hoped to cause debate which will allow us to question what or who we are voting for. I am glad reading D Savage's comments that I am not on my own in struggling to find someone to represent me. In response to wonkotsane, I am neither a pro or anti European, I believe that we need to have close ties with Europe but I would never vote for a single state, there are some polices I agree with that have come from Europe and some that I do not. I have not seen the UKIP Manifesto, nor have I had anything through my door, so in my defence all I know about the party is the anti Europe tag which I don’t agree with. By the way, I still haven't received the info from the Government re the AV vote (but that’s another story!) Mr O'Neil, I have heard nothing to say that you are not an honourable or hard working man, and I apologise that my distrust of our politicians tars you. I did vote for you as an independent last year, but I will be honest and say that your election literature which I have received has discouraged me from voting for you, I felt that it was too similar to the propaganda I read from elsewhere which blames others’ failings rather than focusing on what you can do for the people of Swinton South. It is a point that I tried to make to our councillors in a previous article on the Star, where I believe, and know from the people who I have spoken to, that they as well as myself want an end to the pettiness, squabbling, blame oriented, self effacing politicians that seem to fill the town hall and have people who represent us, the people and our wishes and not some party manifesto that is concerned with getting power and keeping it.
Paul Gerrard wrote
at 1:19:47 PM on Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Hi Gareth You sound like someone who wants to cast your vote for a left wing party, against cuts and privatisation, and for trade unions and workers' rights. We have such a party - it is called the Trade Unionists and Socialists Coalition (TUSC), this year standing as TUSC against Cuts. We are sponsored by the RMT trade union and are fielding 180 candidates across the UK. We fought Ordsall last year and this year we are fighting Ordsall (candidate: George Tapp), Langworthy (Andy Behan)and Winton (Tony Moore). We hope next year to be fighting more wards in Salford. Look out for us!
joe oneill wrote
at 11:21:41 AM on Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Hi Gareth Just a short reply,i was born in manchester,but i spent most of my life in Salford.I am proud of Salford and proud of the city and it's people. My father was a Docker and my mum worked in the sweat shops working for coppers making coats. I was brought up in a Labour family but i was introduced to Salford poltics by a present Liberal Democrat councillor,i stood and won a seat after three atempts,as a councillor i worked hard for the people check out google and type in my name. I left the Liberal Democrats at the height of their rise in popular vote if i sat and said nothing would that have made me a better person? no, i stood hoping to return with a party backing i had one offer to join and take a seat that i had a good chance of winning on an easy ticket i took the hard option of joining a new party with the greatest mix of political exiles i have ever met. I feel happy and i will sit out and try to build a green party within Salford win or loose. Your views offer honesty and i hope you speak with me before you vote or not. i am sorry you feel the way you do but good luck for the future and i wish you well Joe Oneill Salford Green Party
wonkotsane wrote
at 11:20:41 AM on Tuesday, May 3, 2011
UKIP has published a 12 page manifesto for English local government and you've decided not to vote for the UKIP candidate because you're undecided on the EU which is a national policy? Genius! UKIP policy is to hand as much power and decision making to local government as is possible and to shrink the size of the state which means less interference from people who have no knowledge or interest in local issues. Isn't that what you're looking for?
D.Savage wrote
at 11:20:10 AM on Tuesday, May 3, 2011
Quite right and well said .None of the Parties listed above are worth voting for .Who are they ?We never see these people , apart from when they crawl out of the corrupt political cesspit gutter to try and persuade the electorate what they will do for us .And the answer is NOTHING. They care nothing for us . Salford is a shithole , and will always be a shithole .There will be no jobs created , and the lives of the majority will continue to get worse. The poor , ill , unemployed , disadvantaged will still be persecuted .The only truth is that those elected will continue to stuff their pockets at our expense , in this corrupt hellhole , while the majority are exploited to pay for the torycon bastards bankster chums destruction of the economy .HANG THEM ALL .
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