It’s Our County’s Cath North was announced as Tupsley’s newest councillor late on Thursday night after scoring more votes than both the Liberal Democrats and Tories combined.
IOC’s Head of Facebook Statuses was hardly magnanimous about it all, opting instead to arrogantly taunt the other two candidates.
“Sorry Lucy [Hurds] – what was that you were saying?” in reference to the Lib Dems’ claims it was either them or the Tories that would get elected; and “Yesterday’s news … Sorry Jason [Kay], who’s county is it?” Fearing an It’s Our County win, the Tories took out an ad claiming “It’s not their county… It’s yours”.
“I love my community and I am so pleased they have come out in support of the work I have already done on the ground,” said Cllr Cath North.
Cath has been an active member of the Central Tupsley Community Group, which was nominated as environmental champions in the recent Hereford Journal Pride of Herefordshire awards.
The distinction between community group and councillor is an important one, and one that helps explain why we have opposed this by-election, and the institution of councillors and MPs as a whole.
Community associations, such as the Central Tupsley Community Group, are open to all residents in the area. Despite having positions of responsibility, they operate on a more or less equal basis and committees and secretaries are accountable to the members (their friends and neighbours) in a far more democratic way than councils could ever be. Anyone can make proposals and anyone can get involved in the various activities, playing an active role in their communities.
Contrast that with the (lack of) democratic credentials of a councillor. Once every few years you are afforded the luxury of participating in an election. This is your one single contribution to the democratic process. From then until the next election the individual that is elected will make decisions on your behalf, without your consultation, and give you no opportunity to get involved.
This so-called system of democracy is elitist and, as of Thursday, has elevated Cllr Cath North to a position above that of her neighbours.
Inevitably she will make decisions that will go against the wishes of some of her constituents. She will claim a mandate at the ballot box as her justification for being allowed to make such decisions. You won’t be able to be a part of this, you can merely sit on the sidelines and watch.
It’s the same old undemocratic process of privilege on the one side and alienation on the other that has been repeated over and over for centuries.
Replacing dull screws with shiny screws won’t fix a machine. There comes a time when that machine needs to go straight in the bin.