A Letter to the Editor 2

In which The Author doesn’t have a letter
printed in the local newspaper

Here’s another one from 2001, just before the general election. This one was sent to the local paper, but was never published. However, I posted it on a local website once it became apparent that the paper wasn’t interested. I also dug it out and reposted it before the last election – just to show how little the situation had changed.
Ann Clwyd won the seat in a by-election in 1984, and remains our MP today. She appears in the constituency a couple of times a year, for the Remembrance Day service, and occasional visits to factories threatened with closure. People still vote for her …
Cynon Valley Leader
19 Commercial Street
Aberdare
June 1 2001
Dear Sir,
We have been told for the last month by Mr Blair and his chums that ‘voter apathy’ is the greatest threat facing New Labour – possibly even letting the Tories in ‘by the back door’. Until now, nobody has mentioned the other side of the coin – Candidate Apathy.
Two Saturdays ago I walked through Aberdare town centre, expecting to be accosted at every turn by strangers of all political hues, pressing flesh and kissing babies in order to avoid talking to anybody for more than the recommended thirty seconds. The town was strangely quiet: no loudspeaker vans blaring the names of the various candidates; no children carrying balloons in red, blue, green or orange (their first taste of political hot air); not even the peddlers of Moribund Marxism, who normally emerge from their cocoons, blinking in the light of the free market, at this stage of the parliamentary life cycle.
In fairness I did see Mr Julian Waters [the Conservative candidate] in Commercial Street, trying to give a leaflet to a shaven-headed and much tattooed mate of mine who’s more of an anarchist than I am. (Another example of what happens when politicians meet real people – luckily for Mr Waters, my friend is opposed to battery farming and couldn’t get his hands on a free-range egg!)
This very morning I received my copies of election leaflets from Messrs [Steven] Cornelius [the Plaid Cymru candidate], [Ian] Parry [the Liberal Democrat candidate] and Waters. Nothing from Ann (who has mislaid her surname for the campaign, judging from the few posters I’ve seen). Last week, your paper published a brief statement from each of the candidates, which seem to have been culled directly from their official literature. With less than forty-eight hours until the polls open, I have yet to receive a knock on the front door from anyone canvassing my vote on Thursday.
The few billboards I have seen offer only a website, which people can visit in order to get more information about the various parties’ policies – a fat lot of good to the vast majority of us without access to the Internet. In the past, they would at least give a phone number so that people could get in touch; now voters don’t even have that option.
We all know the old joke about a donkey with a red rosette winning Cynon Valley hands down. Is Ann Whats-her-name so confident about holding her seat that she doesn’t even need to send leaflets setting out her aims if re-elected? Are Plaid Cymru and the Liberal Democrats so sure that they’ve got no chance that they don’t even bother knocking doors, or meeting people on the streets of the commercial centre of the constituency on the busiest day of the week? Hats off to Mr Waters for showing his face – not that he’s got a snowball’s chance of winning, but at least he’s making an effort. The Green Party aren’t even fielding a candidate this time round – if they were, I might have been tempted to vote for them.
As things stand, unless I get a knock on the door in the next two days from someone willing to discuss the atrocious state of our public transport system, the drug problem blighting the lives of our young people, the desperate shortage of mental health services, and half a dozen other issues which have gone unmentioned so far, then I’m afraid it’ll be another case of ‘None of the Above’ on Thursday.
And no doubt Mr Blair will put it down to ‘voter apathy’.
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