Wednesday, 7 May 2014

Meet The Candidates (Introduction)

It's time to roll out the May 2014 local election candidates so you dear reader can find out what they have to say and to offer the good people of Worcester Park. I have offered each of the parties standing the opportunity to write a short piece about themselves and several local issues which I will then publish as written.

Three out of the four Worcester Park council wards are electing new councillors at this election: Nonsuch and Worcester Park wards in the London Borough of Sutton and Old Malden ward in the Royal Borough of Kingston. The only one missing out is Cuddington ward in Epsom and Ewell.

There will be a daily posting of a response from a party standing in one or more of the wards (including independents), with each party on a different day. The various wards will all have a section in each party's posting.

In addition to a biography of each candidate I have given each party in each ward up to 150 words to talk about the five following issues: Traffic and Transport, Housing and Planning, Rubbish and Recycling, Children and Education, and The Local Economy. I feel this giving broad topics rather that specific questions allows candidates to play to their strengths and say what they want to say - giving a better idea of what they really stand for.

I have thought long and hard about doing this and equally long and hard about whether I should invite all those standing to participate. The reason for this is that amongst the candidates is someone who has been a member of both the National Front and the BNP. He stood as the National Front candidate in the Croydon North by-election in 2012 and is standing as an independent candidate here. Being such a far right extremist, I was tempted to deny him the same opportunity I am extending to all other parties and candidates.

However, it is my view that this is an election where you, the people of Worcester Park are being given the opportunity to decide between the many candidates. It is not for me to pre-decide what you may or may not hear from those candidates just because I (or any number of people) might find such views offensive or distasteful. There are many other views expressed in comments on this blog that I disagree with - some vehemently, but I feel the commenters still have a right to make them. You the readers are intelligent enough to make up your own mind without needing me to act as a nanny censor.

The various parties pages can be found here:


I have been criticised from time to time for allowing some of the more unpleasant comments (usually made anonymously) to remain on the blog and not moderate such comments more ruthlessly. However it is usually the case that such comments attract numerous harsh rebuttals, often effectively putting the original commenter in their place. I believe that the benefit to readers is far greater to have seen the entire debate of both the original comment and the resulting rebuttals, than to have seen neither because the initiating comment was removed. There have been several such comments directed at me personally - but in the same spirit of openness I have allowed them to remain because again, everyone has their right to an opinion.

I feel that unpleasant views need to be challenged, not hidden away. They need to be fought directly where they exist, not brushed under the carpet in a flurry of embarrassed denial. And they should be defeated with reasoned arguments, not with threats, legislation or censorship. You cannot legislate against an opinion. You can show it up for what it is though - and that it the only route to changing it. And that is why I will continue to generally allow everyone to have their say here on the blog. Including the chap you are about to hear from...