Where are the local issues?

AS WE went to the polls, it struck me more than ever this year that local politicians are campaigning on issues that have nothing to do with the posts they were trying to get elected to.

AS WE went to the polls, it struck me more than ever this year that local politicians are campaigning on issues that have nothing to do with the posts they were trying to get elected to.

We have Tory candidates in Ipswich promising to get tough on asylum seekers and illegal immigrants. I've got news for them: the borough has nothing to do with immigration policy and whatever you say you aren't going to be able to do anything about this from the comfort of Civic Centre!

Labour is telling us not to let the Tories ruin the economy.

Ipswich council might be powerful - but its composition is hardly so vital that it can make or break the British economy.

And the Liberal Democrats - who are concentrating on local issues - aren't averse to telling everyone about their opposition to the unpopular Iraq war if it can get them a few votes.

Again there is no way that decisions made in Civic Centre are going to influence the war in Iraq one way or another.

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Perhaps genuinely local issues are too boring for our politicians to concern themselves with.

Perhaps they all see themselves as MPs in waiting.

Whatever the reason for this desperation to immerse themselves in national and international issues, it is sad that they don't see the posts they are standing for as important enough to have a real debate over.

POLITICIANS can be cynical. It's often been said that a high turnout favours Labour and a low turnout is good for the Tories.

You still hear politicians discussing the weather animatedly at election time - determining whether it will be good or bad for attracting the voters.

The other day I met two councillors both busy campaigning in the heatwave - and both were keeping an eye on the sky.

“Lovely weather today,” said the Labour member. “I hope it stays like this for Thursday.”

A bit later the view from the other camp was slightly different.

“This is lovely weather to campaign in,” said the Tory. “But if we get a shower or two on Thursday we won't be too disappointed - as long as it gets out fine again by the weekend!”

I WAS pleasantly surprised by the coverage and general interest in D-Day that we've seen over the last couple of weeks.

Clearly there is still a great deal of interest in the second world war out there - and it got me thinking about what will happen next year when we come to celebrate the 60th anniversary of VE Day.

There were big celebrations for the 50th anniversary in 1995, and I didn't think we would see the same kind of thing again.

That could be wrong - and if I was being cynical I could say that the government will be keen to hold a national party for this event next year.

Why? Because it could be very politically advantageous to the Labour government.

For a start, governments hate going to the polls less than four years after their previous election victory.

If they've got a majority in the House of Commons they like to go up to the four-year mark because otherwise they can be accused of opportunism.

The election of 2001 was held in early June because it was delayed by the Foot and Mouth epidemic.

The government does want to hold the general election on the same day as county council elections again to ensure the highest possible turnout for these vital local elections.

So how can it put off the county council elections until June?

Next year's elections are due to be held on May 5. The VE-Day 60th anniversary falls on May 8. With major celebrations likely to be held, the government may well decide to put off the campaign by a month until June (the same month that we are going to the polls this year) and then hey presto it gets its four years between general elections!

It could also decide to move all local elections until June so once every five years they coincide with the Euro polls.

Whatever the reason, I'm sure that within the next few months we hear that next year's elections are being put back a month or so - and that will be a clear indication that there will be general election in the summer of 2005.