Today is polling day for the European and County Council elections here in Basildon District.
For the European elections a vote for the Conservatives is a vote to impede the Federalists in the European parliament and to strengthen the case for a British referendum on the Lisbon Treaty. That referendum was promised by Labour and the Liberal Democrats, who reneged as soon as it seemed opportune. A Conservative government would either have a referendum, or if the treaty had been fully ratified find another way to get us out of it. Labour and the Liberal Democrats think that turning the EU into a de facto state is a marvellous idea, but they don't want you to have a say on the matter. As for the various other contenders, they don't have a coherent platform, just a hope that they can hoover up enough protest votes. Worst of the lot is UKIP, who used their platform from the last European elections to achieve precisely nothing, while two of their MEPs were removed for corruption. Then you have the BNP, who want a fascist revolution but have discovered that wearing suits is better than going around in paramilitary uniforms and shouting. European elections certainly bring out a diversity of political opinion, but that doesn't mean that the elections are unimportant. An MEP is for four years, not just for an election day protest.
For the County elections, we currently have an excellent Essex County Council administration under the very able leadership of Lord Hanningfield. He has given us a low Council Tax, efficient services, and innovative ideas to help our people through the recession. I am constantly struck by the ability and professionalism of the County officers I deal with and this cannot but be a reflection of the political leadership of the County. For this election we would be best served by an increased Conservative majority at County Hall, particularly at the expense of the Labour Party. Here in Basildon District we are cursed with Labour do-nothing County Councillors who are not adept at working for their Divisions. Consequently, these can lose out to areas where the County Councillor is harder working. I hope that we can remove some of those chair-warmers today.