I've been too busy with real life to blog about this wonderful election campaign for a few days, which may or may not be a good thing. Only you can judge that.
Sunday was a historic day (and I refuse to write "an historic" because it's weird) for me. Ever since I started playing cricket again in England, my dream has been to take the field in the same team as one of my children, and on Sunday that wish/dream finally came true. I was fortunate enough to be asked to play for Stradbroke Cricket Club against Old Newton Cricket Club with my 14-year-old daughter. Despite her nerves (and mine), she had a fine game, and clean bowled two grown men (and confided to me afterwards that she'd felt so nervous before she came on to bowl that she though she was going to be sick). I was so proud of her. And dead chuffed that I managed to get a few runs later on in the game when she was watching from the score box. And even more chuffed when she managed a little wave to me from that score box after putting on her pads and waiting to bat at number 11 (the need for her to bat never came, much to her relief).
Well, you may ask, what has playing cricket with one of your kids got to do with campaigning to be elected onto Stradbroke Parish Council? Quite a lot, actually. It's just one manifestation of the pride I have in my children, in the way in which they shape my life, not I theirs. And my view of my role on the parish council is to ensure even more children shape not just my life, but the life of this village. The make-up of the current council is very much one of old men (some exceptions spring to mind), and I would be very surprised if the average age of the Parish Council was much below 60. How likely does this make it that the parish council actually listens and takes into account the views of young people? And by young people, I mean really young people, not people in their twenties, but the real shapers of the future, the 14, 15, 16, 17, and 18-year-olds.
My family is very fortunate to have four very politically aware and frighteningly aspirational children. Unfortunately, this can be something of a rarity in a rural setting, where aspiration can often be frowned upon, where children are told they should know their place and where they're too often told by institution after institution that they'll work, live and die in the place where they were born. And that's no good, no good at all.
That's why I want to reiterate my point from earlier in this campaign, that the parish council should actively co-opt 16-18-year-olds onto the council, with the right to vote on decisions that matter. Nationally, youngsters should be allowed to vote in national and local elections from the age of 16, in my view. That change must come, and that change will reinvigorate not just young people's interest in politics, it will reinvigorate politics and government, especially if it's linked with full proporational representation to replace the corrupt and ridiculous first-past-the-post electoral system this country has in place at the moment. We need this change to stop this country being mired forever in the mess that is right-wing politics and endless populism and personality-driven, media-determined electoral outcomes.
Vote for change.
Promoted by Richard Pierce-Saunderson of Spring Cottage, Church Street, Stradbroke, Suffolk, IP21 5HT.