26 January 2021
What is Talking Points?
Cambridge News asks a representative of each local political party to answer a question on a local issue in just 300 words. The answers are then published in the physical copy of the Cambridge News every week. Here, we share our response to the question.
Today's question: Do you think local and mayoral elections should be held this May or should they be postponed once again? Do you agree with Sadiq Khan that "there is no legitimate reason to consider postponing the elections"?
At the time of writing, I don’t believe that the nationwide local elections should be postponed. Since May 2020, local councils have been preparing and putting into place the processes needed to hold the delayed elections safely. Elections have been successfully held in other countries since the pandemic hit their respective shores, organised with much shorter timeframes.
Naturally, adaptations will need to be made. Polling stations and council buildings where the count will be held will need to have similar risk assessments in place as those in most workplaces. Social distancing measures will need to be in place, masks will need to be worn and sanitising stations set-up.
Provisions already exist through postal and proxy voting to allow people to vote without entering a polling station at all. Local councils will be aware that the number of people using these alternatives is likely to increase substantially and will be increasing their capacity to ensure these can be accessible to all who need. National guidance on door-to-door campaigning would also be helpful.
This is my personal view from a Cambridge perspective. I’m aware that some Green colleagues in other parts of the country are calling for a short postponement until the summer. What we do need from the government now is decisiveness. The worst course would be to waste everyone’s time by pressing ahead only to postpone at the last minute..
Certainly, Greens would not support any longer delay to the elections. With the rollout of the Covid-19 vaccination programme and increased nationwide testing, things should be looking better by May. Local councils are playing a crucial role in delivering support to communities. It is more important than ever that we have the opportunity to exercise our democratic right to elect the people responsible.
Our response was written by Mark Slade. Mark is a secondary school mathematics teacher, NEU rep and the Cambridge Green Party's campaign manager.