Friday, February 4, 2011

Paper Candidates Galore!

At the local elections on 5th May 2010 there could be a plethora of what the political class call "Paper Candidates". These are people who are asked to put their names forward by a political party as candidates on the understanding they are not likely to win. Sometimes these candidates get elected and an embarrassing time is had by all as the newly elected Councillor is obviously not interested in doing the job.

At these local elections all the St Neots District Council wards are up for election and all 21 seats on the Town Council are also up for grabs. That makes a total of 25 seats. The Conservatives will obviously want to put up a full slate of candidates. The Liberal Democrats too. That makes 50 candidates. If Labour just put 1 candidate up in each wards that is an extra 8 candidates. This makes 58 candidates. This is without UKIP or any Independents. Whilst there maybe some doubling up with existing District Councillors standing for Town Council or candidates standing in both elections, it is a big effort to find the candidates necessary who want to stand and be Councillors, if elected. Enter the "Paper Candidate".

The "Paper Candidate" is there to allow the supporters of a political party to vote for that party and not vote for another. But these candidates don't want to be Councillors. Standing for election must mean you want to be a Councillor and, if elected, you are willing to serve to the best of your abilities. 

The use of "Paper Candidates" is essentially a lie. Many of these people don't want to serve. They are just helping out their party by putting their names forward. By putting up "Paper Candidates" the political parties only stop those who do want to serve St Neots.

How to tell if someone is a "Paper candidate"? Now this can be a hard. A few things to look out for is whether their details are given on an political literature. If you receive any political literature! In the recent racist playgroup episode the Conservative press release included Cllr Ursell and Andy Jennings. This very probably means they are standing for election.

Persons standing at both District and Town Council elections is not against the law. Voters should always ask whether the candidate has the time to put full effort into both Councils. If a candidate knocks on your door, they are very probably wanting to be elected.

The problem with "Paper Candidates" if things go well for a party and they clean sweep the board they are not a problem to the party. But what do they bring to the Town Council if they are disinterested in being a Councillor?

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