Nominations formally closed at 1600 on Thursday 9th April and my most important job as agent has been completed. At 2103 last night I received an e-mail from the District Council’s Electoral Services Manager attaching an official letter of validation for Denise Burke as our Labour candidate. This was followed, at 2133, by a second e-mail containing the following information: statement of persons nominated, formal notice of poll, and the list of polling stations for the North Norfolk constituency. All this information is now on the district Council’s website. Four other candidates, Conservative, LibDem, UKip and Green will be standing against Denise. The threatened candidature of an independent LibDem who had left the local party having following various squabbles did not materialize.
Note the time of the e-mail. Thursday was a long day for the Council team and today, Friday, they will be doing the same job for the District and Parish Council elections where, by my estimate, there could 200 candidates involved. I’ve delivered nominations twice this last week and have been impressed with the Council team’s efficiency. They now have the powers to undertake informal checks of papers and will allow the person delivering the papers to make minor changes – for example an inconsistent spelling of a name or an incorrect number.
We are very lucky to live in a sophisticated and effective democracy. Inevitably when it works effectively we take it for granted. More generally we have a well functioning system of local government that tragically has become the main victim of the coalition government’s austerity cuts. So far this has not become an election issue. I hope that, at some stage in the campaign, the Labour Party leadership will have the courage to make an unequivocal and unambiguous defence of public sector infrastructure. Effective local government is essential for a civilized society.