Official notices around a polling station

Today is, technically, the day I start my new term of office as a Wandsworth councillor1.

I begin with a thank-you.

A massive thank-you to everyone who voted to re-elect me as a councillor. But also a thank-you to everyone who voted. I’ve never been so naïve to think I was universally popular, and while I’m pragmatic enough to recognise that I only need to be more popular than the fourth most popular candidate, the electoral process can be as much about a collective expression of will as it is about electing individuals.

Let me get the ego out of the way first. It was enormously flattering to be re-elected as a councillor. You would expect me to say that. The sort of thing you expect anyone who has been elected to say. I can only assure you that I found watching the votes being counted a remarkably humbling and touching experience.

Obviously I have no idea what the motives behind each ballot paper was. It might be some votes were cast for me in error, or perhaps simply because the voter disliked other people more than me. However, there will be some in there that reflected a positive decision to vote in my favour and for that I am incredibly grateful and hope I do not let those people down.

Looking across the rest of the borough the results were not what we would have hoped.

I wish John Marsh had been elected in Queenstown, I worked hard—but obviously not hard enough—to get him elected and think he would have been a great champion for the area.

I wish we hadn’t lost the councillors we did. John Locker, for example, was a superb champion for his ward and while I was an executive member I always appreciated his guidance: there is no doubt I did a better job with his support.

But democracy provides wisdom. I’m not sure how, but collectively the electorate collectively gets the result that’s right for the time. Wandsworth is still a Conservative borough, but obviously not quite as Conservative as it was (technically) yesterday. It is for those who are elected to divine the wisdom of the electoral crowd and how to respond.

Returning to my own election (I recognise that I am but one of sixty, but politics—and blogging—requires some ego, so trust you’ll forgive some narcissism) I’m enormously excited to be starting another term of office, and starting my own personal project to see what I can accomplish for Shaftesbury ward. There are, by my reckoning, about 1,442 days until the fourth day after the next ordinary election and I wonder how my end of term report will read.

  1. Councillors terms of office are dated from and until the fourth day after an ordinary election, usually the first Thursday in May, but changed this year to coincide with the European elections. 

I wasn’t entirely positive about Transport for London the other day – although it was a little tongue-in-cheek – when I realised it would cost them more to process my ‘late’ bus fare than the bus fare I was paying.  I was then a little cheeky on Twitter suggesting their positive feedback form was ‘dropdownboxtastic’ (and more than a little clunky).

However, credit where credit is due.  I filled in the form, giving the necessary detail and reasons and asking for my comments and congratulations to be passed on.  I did it half-expecting to hear no more.  But less than 24 hours later they’d emailed back, thanking me for my comments and letting me know what would be happening with them and the member of staff in question.

They made the good point that frontline staff are rarely thanked for their work (and often bear the brunt of criticism for the actions of management or drivers).  From the purely selfish point of view it’s good for the soul to take a few moments to say thank-you.  If you feel motivated to do the same, pop along to the TfL contact page and click ‘say thank-you’