“All politics is local,” Tip O’Neill asserted. The former Speaker of the United States House of Representatives appreciated the power of local issues in determining voters’ decisions even in a country as vast as the United States.
Perhaps it is possible to go a step further and to assert that all politics is personal. Our voting decisions are shaped by our own personal history, our own personal interests, our own likes and dislikes. Even someone who votes in what they perceive to be an altruistic way does so because such altruism is in accord with their view of the world.
A third aphorism might be added, words from the Nineteenth Century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck who said, “Politics is the art of the possible, the attainable — the art of the next best.”
Local, personal and possible seem to be good benchmarks by which to judge the candidates for the local district council elections. Our district council is South Somerset, a local authority whose jurisdiction is the south-east of the county and which has its offices in Yeovil. The district has a population of 167,000 according to the Office of National Statistics, but there is no sense of there being such a number when driving through the rural hinterland that comprises much of the area.
Like nearly every other local authority, South Somerset District Council has been dominated by political parties, which is nonsensical when one considers the business and the powers of such a body. Only at county council level does national politics really become a factor; district council debates are ordinary and mundane.
If politics is not about petty party ambitions, but about the local, the personal, the possible, it is definitely so at the level of a district council.
I have no idea who Gerard Tucker is, but a sign supporting him stands against the farmyard wall of the man in the village whom I respect the most. “If John supports him, he must be a good man,” I thought.
Reading Gerard Tucker’s election leaflet, I realised that he was a man who understood the local, the personal and the possible. There is no trumpeting of party slogans, no declarations on issues that have nothing to do with the work of a district council, instead a pledge to work with the local parish council in its plans for the village and a commitment to supporting the progress of a community land trust – a body established by the parish council to try to ensure affordable housing exists in our community. One cannot be more committed to the local, personal and possible than supporting people’s aspirations for houses in which to live.
I shall be voting for Gerard Tucker on 2nd May, as he is the candidate who really understands politics.