LOCAL ELECTIONS 2018: Getting Our Message Across
So, the papers are all in and all UKIP and indeed other parties candidates are duly nominated for the local elections on May 3rd. I think it is fair to say, indeed, it would be disingenuous to say otherwise, that this promises to be a tough round of elections for the Party. However, although it is an uphill struggle, not an impossible task, indeed, recently UKIP members have shown how resilience and determination can overcome seemingly impossible odds with their fundraising efforts.
For the purposes of this article, I intend to focus on ‘the message’ ie, the question of how the campaign should be themed. I am a strong believer that local campaigns although they do need to focus on immediate issues, ones that are relevant in the immediate locality, they should have a national ‘spine’ ie, a theme determined and pushed forward by the national Party. However, despite being an issue with national applicability, it should be one that can be ‘actioned’ locally, ie, our councillors can do something that will materially impact on the issue. This would definitely rule out Brexit as being even eligible for consideration as our local councillors will have the sum total of zero impact on the Brexit process. Furthermore, when voters enter the polling booth on May 3rd I doubt many will be thinking about Brexit at all, they might, however, be thinking about the massive increase in the council tax bill most of them will have received. Even if the people we speak to agree with us on Brexit it is going to be low down the list of what determines where they put their X on May 3rd, the only slight exception to this rule might be fishing communities where their plight is a local and national issue all rolled into one.
Council tax increases will be adversely affecting the vast majority of the people we talk to on the doorstep:
Nearly all councils (95%) plan to increase council tax while 93% will hike charges to make ends meet, the 2018 State of Local Government Finance research conducted by the LGiU think tank and The Municipal Journal found.
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The council tax rises will add around £100 to the average bill for a Band D property – equivalent to 6 percent – but as much as £200 for owners of more expensive properties.
Despite this, the same survey found that 80% of councils “fear for their financial stability”. If only it ended there but it doesn’t, in addition to the rises, local authorities can raise an additional “precept” to fund adult social care. The real terms pressure on households is eye-watering. Yes, there are issues to be addressed here in terms of funding from central government, something Labour may well latch onto, however, the amount of waste on things such as executive pay is also scandalous. Northamptonshire Council, which is facing the very real prospect of being taken into effective administration and being run by Government Commissionaires, somehow managed to find £95,000 to pay off its departing Chief Executive. Bristol City Council meanwhile revealed it wants to pay £165,000 to an incoming ‘Executive Director’. It’s defence that this “reflects the level of responsibility” of the post has a hollow ring to it when you remember that the Prime Minister of Great Britain gets paid £150,402. I don’t think this gentleman will have a greater “level of responsibility” than the Prime Minister, do you?
In the above, we see fertile ground for a strong UKIP campaign which puts us once again on the side of the people vs the establishment. We will need to use our own media, especially the website, to get the message out there as we will not have a Party Political Broadcast. We should have candidate diaries, videos of local campaigns etc, etc. Yes, we have a mountain to climb to achieve any kind of credible result but as I said it can be done, we have shown that, so, it’s over to you and to the national Party to start taking a lead.