Equal access to democracy

ac107:18 Friday 6th May 2016
BBC Radio Cambridgeshire

DOTTY MCLEOD: And just to go quickly to Anthony Carpen once more, who’s a political blogger and community activist in the Cambridge area. I haven’t been canvassed once in the run-up to this local election, which is a source of some disappointment, because I like to play a game where they knock on my door, and then I open it and try and guess the name of the councillor before they tell me their name. I know. The long evenings really do fly by in my household. Do you feel that canvassing has been at fever pitch?
ANTONY CARPEN: Certainly in some of the wards it has been. For example, Market and Romsey had the doors canvassed the hell out of.
DOTTY MCLEOD: Knocked on heavily.
ANTONY CARPEN: Whereas in other wards, Cherry Hinton for example, there were complaints from various people that they hadn’t received any election literature whatsoever. Now I think there are a couple of things to say about this. One is that there’s obviously a negative impact of political parties just targeting a small number of wards. But also for me democracy is not a spectator sport, and one of the things for me that goes with being a citizen is that isn’t there a responsibility for us as citizens to be proactive and find out who is standing in which areas. It’s one of the reasons why I created over fifty short YouTube videos featuring a number of candidates from all of the political parties standing either in the elections for local councils or for the Police and Crime Commissioner elections.
DOTTY MCLEOD: And Daniel, Anthony mentioning there Cherry Hinton ward, where I believe Rob Dryden who’s the Mayor of Cambridge, very very well known local figure, was standing and re-elected for Labour. Do you think there are some wards within the city where your party Labour has become complacent?
DANIEL ZEICHNER: I don’t think complacent, but I think all organisations work the system they’ve got. So you concentrate your resources. I think actually Labour does make a consistent attempt to make sure that everyone gets election literature. I’ve (something) Liberal Democrats have almost withdrawn completely from whole areas of the city, and just contest very hard these very marginal areas. So it does mean that everyone else gets left out, which is why I and others think a change to our electoral system would actually be good for our local democracy.