Deputy editor’s comment: Bucks’ leaders are in an unprecedented position – they actually have to earn our votes

Adam King

Adam King

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What does Buckinghamshire have in common with South Africa, Texas, Japan, Botswana and Samoa?

The answer is they are all democracies controlled by one dominant party.

In Bucks of course, it is the Conservatives which rule the roost.

The county council has never been under the control of another party.

Our MPs are Tory – the Aylesbury constituency last returned a non-Conservative 91 years ago.

For Aylesbury Vale District Council the situation is a little more complex, with the Liberal Democrats enjoying periods in charge, but the Tories regained control in 2003 and enjoy a comfortable majority.

Such a system can have its benefits.

It creates stability and supposedly allows politicians to concentrate on the long-term good rather than having to worry about populist (but not necessarily viable) policies to earn votes.

But for me, the negatives outweigh the positives.

‘Heartlands’ create a democratic vacuum where the ruling party knows it can do what it likes and still be re-elected, while opposition parties tend not to waste their efforts trying to woo a public they know are entrenched in their ways.

I wonder how different Bucks would be if we had a more competitive democracy.

Would Aylesbury Vale District Council have got away with the huge overspend on the Waterside Theatre?

Would Bucks County Council pay more attention to the terrible state of our roads? (I have no doubt leader Martin Tett understands the public’s anger, but deep down he knows it is unlikely to cost him his job).

Would David Lidington have resigned from the Government to vote against HS2 had his majority been slim?

Would the Tory-led government be so hell-bent on building HS2 through Bucks if they genuinely feared they might lose crucial seats?

It is for others to debate whether UKIP is a force for good or recipe for disaster and the party is yet to truly prove itself at council or national elections.

But their success here in the European elections at least sends out a message to Bucks’ political class that the era of the guaranteed vote is coming to an end.

They are now in the unprecedented position of having to woo voters back.

Surely the more swing voters we have, the better it is for democracy and holding our leaders to account.

Bucks’ political establishment should now be under no illusions.

They have to work hard to earn peoples’ votes, not just expect them.

They must raise their games and that can only be a good thing.

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