We’re now less than a month away from the local elections here in North Tyneside (Thurs May 5th) and the full list of candidates for our ward has just been released.
In terms of its approach to local democracy North Tyneside elects its councillors “in thirds”. This means that every ward has three councillors with one of them being up for re-election every year in a rotating pattern. Because a standard term of service is four years we also have what’s known as a “fallow year” when either no elections take place, or other elections, such as for the Mayor, happen.
I see two main advantages of electing in thirds: Firstly, it ensures that because an election is never too far away local political parties need to work hard to stay connected with residents, rather than just showing up in an election year. Secondly, it supports a more stable political environment. Councils that pursue “all out” elections once every four years can tend to lurch one way and then another.
Anyway, onto the list… (drumroll)… in alphabetical order…
- Frank Austin, Independent. This is quite a surprise. Frank will be well-known to local Conservatives as he has been a big player within their local group for many years before exiting the party in their latest round of in-fighting.
- Cath Davis, Labour & Cooperative. My ward colleague at the moment Cath is seeking re-election. It is a statement of fact that nobody else on the slate knows our local community and its people better than Cath. And none of them have worked harder for this area either. Despite all the Tory propaganda seeking to undermine her good reputation local people know she has their back.
- Neil Graham, Conservative. A newcomer, Neil, or as his social media persona styles him “Dr. Neil” (I’m pretty sure he isn’t a medical doctor, but has a PhD in something or other) is standing in Preston ward for the first time.
- William Jackson, UKIP. I must confess I didn’t even know that UKIP was actually still functioning as a party after the completion of the Brexit referendum and the departure of Farage.
- Rob Wylie, Green Party. My understanding is that the Greens are putting up candidates in pretty much every ward around North Tyneside. I’ve never known them to knock a single door or post a single leaflet round here. If you do receive a ‘Vote Green’ leaflet examine it carefully and you will find it’s probably from the Tories, who know that every vote for the Greens helps them win overall.
One final point worthy of note: Preston ward currently has two men and one woman representing it. Labour is the only party standing a female candidate in this election. If Cath is unsuccessful it will mean that Preston ward has three men as councillors, which I think would be hugely regressive for women’s equality. On a practical level it will also mean that women in the ward who have issues they would prefer to discuss with woman rather than a man, will have nobody to turn to.