Wasting votes in local elections – to what extent does David Cameron want to prevent it?
Conscious of the disillusionment and cynicism of the electorate, David Cameron has set much store by what he calls 'localism'. Indeed, back in February the Conservative Party published Control Shift – Returning power to local communities – part of Responsibility Agenda - Policy Green Paper No.9.
When Conservative voters are successful in turfing out Labour and Liberal Democrat councillors and winning control of a council, they expect to see Conservative policies being followed. When that does not occur, they doubtless make a mental note, and may well be more inclined not to bother at all next time.
Cranmer thinks this is both reasonable and wholly understandable. And if these voters happen to be party members, they may further inclined to let their memberships lapse and withdraw altogether from associational political life.
His Grace spoke recently on ‘Conservative plans to strengthen the family’, even suggesting that Iain Duncan Smith should be made the Minister for Social Justice in the next government. He wrote, “On marriage and the family, Parliament and political parties have been so afraid of doing the wrong thing that they have ceased to do what is so plainly right.”
Cranmer has learned that Conservative councillors who are now in a substantial majority and whose councils are also in a substantial majority on the Local Government Association are now among those ‘so afraid of doing the wrong thing that they have ceased to do what is so plainly right’. In this case, it is in ensuring that the LGA reflects the views of the majority of its members.
But rather than paying attention to ‘Conservative plans to strengthen the family’, the LGA has been pursuing the ‘every choice of lifestyle’ agenda of this Labour government which undermines the family. LACORS, which is the Local Authorities Coordinators of Regulatory Services, commissioned One Plus One to provide some web pages to which registrars could signpost couples visiting registry offices.
One Plus One ‘puts research into practice. We investigate what makes relationships work – or fall apart – and make the findings accessible to everyone interested in strengthening and supporting couple and family relationships’, state the pages of their www.coupleconnection.net website.
However, the front page does not even include the word 'marriage'. The claim ‘We investigate what makes relationships work’ does not look like a comprehensive one. It certainly apopears to be an unsuitable area to which to one might signpost couples, especially for Conservative councils which do not subscribe to the ‘every choice of lifestyle’ agenda of the Government which the One Plus One and the Couple Connection web sites manifestly promote.
At the Conservative Party conference last year, the Conservative Shadow Minister for the Family, Maria Miller MP, announced: “We want local registrars to start signposting couples to pre-marital education as a matter of routine. The Local Government Association who co-ordinate the role of wedding registrars, agree and I am pleased to say that they (are) putting forward this policy so that every young couple getting married will be made aware of the benefits they would get from relationship support at this critical point in their life.”
One has to ask who might do something about this unsatisfactory state of affairs? Clearly something needs to be done; all that has been done hitherto has not been executed in a way that the majority of Conservative voters in local elections might have expected. What has been implemented is much closer to current government policy than strengthening marriage and the family.
The policy is now opaque: the responsibilities are not all transparent. There is no published explanation from any of the parties involved as to what is going on, apart from Maria Miller's speech last year.
Words are but wind that do from men proceed;
None but Chamelions on bare Air can feed;
Great men large hopeful promises may utter;
But words did never Fish or Parsnips butter.
(From Epigrammes, 1651, by John Taylor)