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The Elections

On May 5th this year everyone over 18 in the Liphook area has a say in who we want to manage our local services and our national government. 2 elections are taking place on the same day:

1) Parliamentary Election (National)

The first to choose a representative to represent our constituency (North East Hampshire) in the House of Commons. Most candidates are from a political party but there can also be independent candidates. After a general election, the leader of the party with the most MPs is asked by the Queen to become Prime Minister and to form a government that will run the country. The leader of the party with the second highest number of MPs becomes the Leader of the Opposition.
Information about North East Hampshire Consituency:

BBC - Guide to Hampshire North East
http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/shared/vote2005/html/296.stm Guardian - Guide to Hampshire North East
http://politics.guardian.co.uk/hoc/constituency/0,,-1174,00.html
2) Local Council Election

The second is to choose the people we want to employ as councillors to manage the duties of our local council authority (East Hants District Council), which provides about 80% of our local services, such as electoral registration, environmental health, council housing, leisure facilities and waste collection.
East Hants District Council Electoral Information
http://www.easthants.gov.uk/allservices.nsf/
servicesFAQView2/Electoral+Information?OpenDocument
Have you made sure you can vote?
You must be registered to vote, and this is usually taken care automatically by your details being on the electoral roll. You must be 16 within the next electoral period and a British citizen. The following deadlines are in force:

11th March 2005 - Voter registration deadline
19 April 2005 (before 5pm) - Deadline to change existing postal and proxy vote details
26 April 2005 (before 5pm) - Deadline for new postal vote applications


When and where do i go to vote?
You can vote in 2 ways:

a) In person at a polling station,
b) By post.

How you vote is up to you. It may depend on what you find the easiest or the most convenient. You have most probably already received 2 white paper polling cards in the post inviting you to turn up to your local polling station (The Millennium Hall) on May 5th 2005 between 7am and 10pm and vote for the candidates you would prefer in each ballot. Voting is simple, quick, private and easy, and the polling centre is open late (until 10pm) so you can pop in after work if necessary.

On your ballot paper, or papers, you will be asked to privately mark a cross (X) in the box to the right of the name of the candidate or party you want to vote for and then place the paper into a ballot box. Although it can seem a little intimidating, and even to some pointless, the act of voting is extremely important and only happens every few years. Its your chance to speak up, honour and/or punish those who will be given power over our lives and those of who we know.

Who are the people i can choose from?
There are more than 300 different political parties fielding candidates in the national parliamentary election this year, including the Monster Raving Loony Party, the Legalise Cannabis Alliance, the Natural Law Party and The Pensioners Party. Some of them have representation in the Liphook, others don't - they may be 'protest parties' or special interest groups.

The 3 main parties (Labour, Conservatives, Liberal Democrats) all have candidates that you can vote for to be our representative in Parliament for the next 5 years:

Arbuthnot, James (Conservative)
http://www.conservatives.com/tile.do?def=people.person.page&personID=4744

Carew, Adam (Liberal Democrats)
http://www.libdems.org.uk/party/people/person.html?id=913

McGrath, Kevin (Labour Party)
http://www.mcgrath4labour.co.uk

You may also want to look at :

Green Party
http://www.greenparty.org.uk/

UK Independence Party (UKIP)
http://www.independenceuk.org.uk/

Who should i vote for?
You would be surprised at how many people are confused about knowing who to vote for - although we are supposed to vote on the basis of individual performance, the ballot almost always reflects the opinion of the main political parties themselves. The general consensus is that you pick the candidate from the party whose policies reflect your own values most accurately. Personal conscience is very important. What matters most, however, is that you take half an hour to get down to the polling station and cast your vote. Each of us may only be small out of a country of 60 million people, but we only do this every 5 years and combined with the votes of others our collective voice is deafening.

At the last general election, the Conservative (Tory) party (http://www.conservatives.com) won with 53.2% of the vote. The Liberal Democrats (http://www.libdems.org.uk) came in second with 23% and Labour (Tony Blair's party - http://www.labour.org.uk) managed 19.9%. Our incumbent local MP is James Arbuthnot, a conservative MP whose profile can be seen on this site. You can use the following site to find out lots of information about how he has performed:

James Arthbuthnot's performance statistics: http://www.theyworkforyou.com/mp/?pid=10013

Many local and national newspapers are giving daily information to help summarise the beliefs, values and policies of the 3 main political parties. Alternatively there are also many internet resources that can help you to understand those issues are, how you feel about them and the best way to express your preferences in the elections. 2 very useful websites are below:

UK Electoral Commission
http://www.aboutmyvote.co.uk/Elections/?officeID=141

Quiz to help you make your decision
http://www.whoshouldyouvotefor.com/

Source: Alex Cameron (2005)

Article posted on: 25 April 2005

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