"I think our councillors are good people doing a good job". There, I've said it. But what is the public's opinion?
Chatting with people, and eavesdropping on private conversations, (don't get all moral high ground with me - I'm not Jonathon Ross leaving obscene messages on Andrew Sachs' answerphone) it is clear that many have a much lower opinion than I do, of the efforts of our local politicians.
Partly it's caused by expenses scandals, partly it's our media, partly it's a national malaise that we'd rather see bad in people. And partly it's down to the bickering between politicians, particularly now, in the silly season leading up to elections.
A good principle in life is to under-promise and over-deliver; then people are usually quite satisfied with one's performance. But of course the politician is put in an awkward position. Who will stand on a ticket of "my influence will be limited, as the authority's powers are weak, and their funds meagre"? And if they stood as an "honest appraisal of the situation, but I'll do what I can" candidate, would they get elected? (Even under an AV system?)
Over many years I have got to know dozens of local politicians, some quite well, and I would say that most of them are good people who want to do their best to serve their community. They work hard with the local people and businesses, showing tact and patience, have barrow loads of case work, put in endless hours at public and private meetings, and are rewarded with reasonable expenses, some allowances, and very little glory. Yet so many people have nothing but contempt for the councillors' efforts.
And now it's the run-in to the local elections. And what do we receive from the political parties? A load of messages from new people seeking election, describing what the current incumbents have failed to achieve, even if the issue is not the responsibility of that authority, out of their control or influence, and regardless of central government regulations and any budgetary restraints. And to counter that, those currently elected are claiming the glory for things that have been provided by others, and would have happened anyway. And the current and prospective candidates are making promises to the electorate that they cannot possibly keep.
No wonder the public has so little faith in politicians to deliver. And I find it all very sad, as I am very fond of our democratic system, I admire those who dedicate their efforts to serve the public, and I appreciate all they are trying to do on our behalf. So why, why, why do you all make the elections such a turn-off, with all that silly posturing?