Where are the Tories in Oxford East?

by Stephen Tall on April 5, 2006

So much for the revival of Cameron’s Conservatives…

Nominations for candidates contesting the City Council elections on Thursday, 4th May, closed last Monday, 3rd April. Liberal Democrats, Labour and Greens are all fielding a full slate of candidates across the city – the big surprise is the Conservative Party’s failure to field candidates in SEVEN of the 17 wards in the Oxford East constituency.

So, if you live in (in alphabetical order):

* Blackbird Leys;
* Cowley;
* Iffley Fields;
* Lye Valley;
* Marston;
* Northfield Brook; or
* St Mary’s (as I do)

then tough luck if you want to show your support for Cameron’s Conservatives.

This is bizarre because it’s not that hard to ensure you put up candidates across the city: you need only 24 people willing to submit themselves for election, and 240 electors willing to nominate them.

If you are at all serious about being an active political force in Oxford, then that’s surely not so difficult? After all, even the Greens manage it, as a much smaller party with far fewer local or national resources.

Now, of course, there’s a part of me which is pleased by this. That the Tories are in meltdown in Oxford East is likely to help the Lib Dem cause, as it means we are the only effective opposition to Labour across the city.

But I don’t believe it is good for democracy. Though I have never voted Tory in my life, and cannot conceive of ever doing so, it is clear there are people out there who have, and would like to. Simply depriving them of a candidate to enable them to express that view at the ballot box will not change their minds one iota.

It is for this exact same reason I am also in favour of proportional representation for elections, both local and national. In 2004, 18% of the residents in Oxford East voted Tory: not a single Tory councillor was elected. Such a democratic deficit is an utter disgrace, however convenient it might be for we non-Tories in Oxford.