From Bill Smithson
Although I cheered in May 11 years ago when Labour were elected, I haven't done much cheering since.
I live in Heptonstall and I would like to know where to cast my vote in the local elections to keep Labour out. I'm not too bothered who I vote for - I feel it's too late for the ethics of the issue - but I really would like some advice.
Iraq. Removal of the 10pence tax rate - hurts low wage earners and benefits the very rich. Post office closures - destroying local communities, maybe mine. Nationalising Northern Rock - we take all the risk, while the shareholders breathe a sigh of relief - and Alaister Darling has his mortgage with them. Did I mention Iraq? Gordon Brown dithering over attending the Olympics in China - I assume had he been alive he would have gone to Berlin in 1936. By the way, Iraq.
I could spend another 10 minutes on this, but most of you know where I stand. By the way, please do not tell me that national issues should not impact on local politics - all the research shows that they do.
So where to cast my vote?
Posted by Barry G
Bill, we have just spent the last 40 minutes discussing your points.
This is one of the most engaging postings for a while. Thank you!
Posted by Janet Oosthuysen
As the Labour candidate in the local elections I have to respond to this posting.
Let me start by saying that I share some of your disillusion, and Bill I wouldnt dream of saying that national politics dont impact on local elections. Of course they do.
So why am I standing for Labour? And why should people whose protests I totally respect vote for me? A veteran trade unionist put it best. When rats take over your house, do you move out? No, you stay and fight until every last rat has gone. The working class has spent 100 years nearly building the house of Labour and we have to regain it.
If all of us in the Labour Party who abhor what has been done in our name leave what will happen? The rats win and they cannot be allowed to do so.
So people like me and many of the people working with me stay and fight- for peaceful, ethical solutions to foreign policy, for taxation that creates equality, for decent housing for all people, for living wages, for a proper and effective green agenda. We fight for a voice for working people like we always have.
I think - but I would wouldnt I? - that to vote for a socialist, anti-war, environmentalist, trade unionist pacifist would send a different message to the leadership. One which says if we stand by our principles, we are electable and it is selling them down the river that makes us not.
But I totally respect your right for a protest vote. It's just not the way for me. And I do believe that we can make small changes locally that will impact on our community for the better, even when we are campaigning in any way we know how for the big changes too.
From Bill Smithson
I totally respect your position, and understand the way in which you have to reply. Indeed it is interesting to note that you are the only 'professional' to reply at all as yet.
However, it is still the fact that a vote for you and your party reassures Gordon Brown's spin machine that all is well with the world. Labour sucesses on May 1st will mean business as normal - and I do not want anymore of this governments idea of 'normal'.
From Rev Tony Buglass
I left college the year after Mrs Thatcher came to power. Having grown up on urban Tyneside, I returned there to be a minister, and spent the next years watching as jobs haemorrhaged and community was destroyed, and the poorest were hit hardest. So I was one of those who stayed up until silly o'clock in May 1997, rejoicing to see the Tories booted into the wilderness.
I had no idea that we were electing another Tory government. I think I understand why Tony Blair implemented his "New Labour" programme, but I can't help being disappointed at what has been left undone. Yes, there have been good things - minimum wage and the like. But I'm disappointed.
However, voting to keep Labour out will let someone else in. Who do you want in? Will the BNP slip in the back door? Will you let the Tories back in? Will you then wish you'd voted for Labour, even if it was voting for the least worst option?
Tactical voting is a dangerous game. Wars are won by good strategy, not bad tactics. So I'd rather vote as near as I can to my personal convictions, whatever other compromises I have to make.
From Susan Press
I think Janet has said most of what I wanted to say. And I was saying similar stuff when I stood for Calder four years ago (and lost). For socialists in the Labour Party, Gordon brown is a major headache. But to flee into the arms of the SWP or whoever would be a pointles, self-indulgent exercise.
I know the values Janet is standing on and I can assue you voting to "keep her out" will stop a passionately committed and decent candidate out of the Town Hall. And, dare I say it, socialist. Your choice . . .
From Andrew Hall
I am more than impressed with Janet Oosthuysen's comments on this thread.
From Janice S
Thank you Janet, for your excellent response. I remember when I resigned from the National Trust, because they allowed deer hunting on their land, then realised that I no longer had a voice in that organisation to change things. It's best to stay and fight, in the hopes that things will get better.
I'm so disappointed with Gordon Brown (in my naive way I thought that, because he was Scottish, he might be another John Smith). However, he's better than any of the alternatives - even if that's 'damning with faint praise'. Good luck in the election.
From Margaret Boyle
There are local issues such as fair wages, affordable housing, constructive policies for our young people, air pollution, the scale of developments, which matter a great deal to Calderdale residents and on which Janet Oosthaysen has positive and thoughtful solutions and these deserve to be fully debated. The other point which strikes me is Janet's emphasis on the way we do politics, with elected representatives engaging with ordinary members of the public throughout their term of office and not just at election time. This is one way to break through the general disillusionment most people feel about politics, with last year's Calder Ward turn-out below 40%.
So Bill, forget Gordon Brown on 1st May and vote for the candidate whose beliefs and priorities best matches your own.
From Brian Oosthuysen
Hi. I am a Labour county councillor from Gloucestershire and, perhaps more importantly, the father of Janet.
When I was asked to stand in 2005 I wondered if I could, bearing my dislike of Tony Blair's war in Iraq, his timidness (with a big majority since 1997) to effect real change, his admiration for Thatcher, which was almost the last straw, but I knew I believed profoundly in social justice, I knew that I wanted to do my bit - and perhaps more importantly, help others to do their bit, to make life more tolerable and fair.
While we didn't have the Hebweb discussion forum, I heard from people who had voted Labour and felt they could no longer do so. In my division the Greens were are very strong and I was on first name terms with all of them, but I felt that, if Labour didn't get in, the Tories might, so I gritted my teeth and stood under the Labour banner.
To my joy I discovered that the Labour group thought as I did on matters, that we were able to change things, small things admittedly, and that we - despite being only 12 councillors on a 63-councillor county council, dominated by old 1950s Tories, were able to harry the administration on matters like climate change and the like.
What I am bumblingly saying is that I am immensely proud of Janet, that she will make a damn fine councillor and people should vote for the person, the very fine person she is. She will not let them down.
From Derek Pollard
I am a 17 year living in Hebden Bridge I desperately wish that I could vote for Janet Oosthuysen as she is what Labour should be. As other posts have said, if a change is so badly desired in this party then there is no way but from within to do so and while this may “only” be a local election with, some would say, no real chance of making an impact on national politics, it doesn’t make voting for a socialist candidate any less worthwhile. I think that it is necessary to vote for the candidate as opposed to the party because it is the individuals that will change what most needs changing. Not only that, but she is the most locally active of the councillors available, and the amount of passion and drive this woman has, should hold her far above the negative image of her party. I realise that I, at best, seem naive and idealistic but are they really such bad qualities?
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From Janet Oosthuysen
Thank you for your lovely comments. I especially like the fact that you realise that being naive and idealsitic are such pluses. Where would we be without them? Stuck in the same old cynical world.
I wanted to reply before but hate that kind of electioneering so have left it till close of poll to reply! Derek I'll leave until I am more compos mentis, (I'm very tired and my feet hurt) but I just wanted to say how great it has been to be a part of so many efforts on the part of people to improve their small part of the world.
We've always said from the very beginning of this that we were fighting a campaign not an election camaign and I feel that so strongly.
We want to be a real Labour party, fighting alongside communities to make a difference.
And on a personal note I want to thank everyone who voted for me- and everyone who helped me. I'm so proud that we never lost our integrity- despite great provocation.
I'm afraid you havent seen the last of us.....whatever the result!
From Carole Oosthuysen
Well done Janet Oosthuysen and all your team. What a magnificent effort. It's very refreshing to come across someone in politics with whom one is proud to be associated,someone with ideals, morals and integrity. You did brilliantly and I am impressed with how many people rightly judged you to be worth their vote.The town is all the richer for having you working with people there to improve life for everyone.
From John Rhodes
Thanks to everyone who supported Janet on the day; whether that was tactical or not.We came within a whisker of defeating the Lib Dems and went against the national trend. Some things to think about. Voting Green is a wasted vote in a first past the post election in this ward - if you want green vote for Janet. While much power has been removed from Town Halls by Tory and New Labour Governments it still matters who "runs" Calderdale. What also matters is the content and style of local campaigns.
Our local Labour Party is serious about developing a local style that is inclusive, democratic and really progressive; our campaigning will continue. In two years time people will have another opportunity to support Janet based on a solid record of campaigning. Finally a very big personal thank you to Janet from her comrades in the local Labour Party for being such an outstanding candidate. Part of the reason our vote went up is precisely because of, "the very fine person she is".