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Will bringing in the big guns make a difference?

By Cornish Guardian  |  Posted: April 18, 2013

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ANYONE would think there was a general election taking place at the beginning of May, given the number of high-flying politicians who have made the long trip to Cornwall recently.

Conservative Party chairman Grant Shapps and Business Secretary Vince Cable were here last week, following hot on the heels of Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg.

We may even get a visit soon by David Cameron, who likes to take a break on the North Cornwall coast.

Trailing in wake of Clegg, Cable and Shapps for a photo opportunity were Tory and Liberal Democrats hoping to win seats on Cornwall Council on May 2.

While town and parish councils tend to be devoid of political interference, local authority elections are full of people flying party colours, unless they are standing in disguise as Independents.

Well, some are truly independent of political parties, but a great many used to be Lib Dem or Tory party members, and beneath the surface, probably still are.

On the face of it, you wonder, given the low turnout at local authority elections, why the likes of Mr Clegg and Mr Shapps are bothering to make trips to Cornwall or other far-flung parts of the country.

The answer is the urge to take political control of councils like ours. I've long advocated the need for local authorities to be independent of politics but power at County Hall has always tended to swing from one party to another.

Nationally, the Lib Dems have taken a hammering for forming a coalition with the Conservatives, reneging on their election promises like university tuition fees.

There are grumblings too among grassroots Tories about the Government's policies on immigration, gay marriage and wind turbines.

Enter UKIP, who have more candidates standing in the Cornwall Council elections than ever before.

Grant Shapps, in a speech to the party faithful at Kingsley Village in Fraddon last week, warned that if disenchanted Conservatives voted UKIP come the general election, they would be handing power to the Labour Party and Ed Milliband.

They won't, of course, but they will put their crosses next to Nigel Farage's anti-Euro party candidates in local elections as a form of protest vote.

Do people in Cornwall or elsewhere even care that they are voting for a political party in local government elections?

Probably not, but David Cameron and Nick Clegg certainly care. Post May 2, they will be crowing that their parties control various councils up and down the country, and in doing so, these councils will toe the coalition Government's line of national policies at local level.

At County Hall in recent years, it has been the Conservatives who have been the dominant party, with their councillors taking most of the key posts such as leader, along with members of the Cabinet.

A few Tory Cabinet members left the party recently after the majority of their former political colleagues sided with the Lib Dems when it came to setting Cornwall Council's budget. That's coalition Government in action, isn't it?

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  • johndavies  |  April 19 2013, 1:44PM

    ( "Do people in Cornwall or elsewhere even care that they are voting for a political party in local government elections? Probably not, but David Cameron and Nick Clegg certainly care. Post May 2, they will be crowing that their parties control various councils up and down the country, and in doing so, these councils will toe the coalition Government's line of national policies at local level." ) We are ruled by Lawyers & Bankers ( that should read Liars & vankers) To break the political monopoly & get a return to democracy Vote UKIP

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