Marion’s party piece
WE RE all entitled to change our mind. So says Stevenage councillor Marion Mason who until last weekend was the leader of the town s Conservative councillors before pole-vaulting over to join UKIP. But will Cllr Mason give those people who voted her in
WE'RE all entitled to change our mind."
So says Stevenage councillor Marion Mason who until last weekend was the leader of the town's Conservative councillors before pole-vaulting over to join UKIP.
But will Cllr Mason give those people who voted her in as a Conservative councillor the opportunity to change their minds now she represents a different party?
By that, of course, I mean will Cllr Mason stand for re-election?
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"Some might say I should stand again, but hopefully there might be some people who may want to know more about UKIP," said Cllr Mason.
I guess that's a 'no' then.
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I agree there might be people out there who want to know more about UKIP, including some of the 829 people who voted for Cllr Mason in 2006, but isn't it better to give them the information before they vote you in and not spring it upon them afterwards?
Isn't it best to step down and stand for re-election as a UKIP councillor, give the residents in your ward all the spiel and literature about UKIP and let them compare that to the information from the other parties and individuals and let them decide for themselves if they want a UKIP councillor or not?
Give the voters the choice - if they vote for you then whoopee, if not then that is what the people have decided and you must accept it.
If, as it looks, Cllr Mason does not stand for re-election then this democratic choice will have been taken away from voters in Cllr Mason's Woodfield ward and they will have to put up with a councillor who represents a party they may not necessarily support until she stands down in 2010.
But it's not just the voters of this ward who don't support UKIP.
Between Stevenage Borough Council, North Hertfordshire District Council and Mid Beds District Council there are 139 councillors currently serving.
None of them are UKIP councillors.
Out of 399 actual candidates who stood for these 139 seats, only one was a UKIP candidate and he came last in the Letchworth South East ward of North Hertfordshire District Council's elections in 2007 with 6.5 per cent of the vote for that ward.
The British National Party put up more candidates locally than UKIP during the last round of elections and in each of the two seats they stood for they each gained over 12 per cent of the votes.
The figures suggest that locally even the BNP is more popular than UKIP.
In Stevenage, not one candidate stood for UKIP in any of the three elections of 2004, 2006 and 2007. Maybe they didn't think it worth their while to put a candidate forward!
Cllr Mason also acknowledges that "people will judge me" but then says "but some might say I have every right to change my political party if I wish".
Cllr Mason's actions are well within the law, of course, but should this be a law which exists because, let's face it, the electorate - those very few who do in fact turn out - vote less for the individual on the ballot sheet and more for the party which resides alongside it.
Therefore it does matter which political party, if any, a candidate belongs to and it is a big issue.
It is clear to me that until now voters in Comet country have not wanted UKIP councillors so will Cllr Mason now change her mind and stand for re-election and let the voters decide?