Democracy can seem abstract when your ability to make changes to your community feels limited to choosing between a small number of political parties every few years. And how can any winning party really represent the needs of all 119,000 residents in Tunbridge Wells borough?
Party politics will always get in the way of local residents being able to make changes that help build a better community for all. The main parties are limited by decisions and views made centrally, and conflict between them distracts from the need to work for improvements that benefit the greatest number of people. Two councillors this year alone have resigned from their parties for failures in both local administrations and at the very top of government. Whether Liberal Democrat or Tory, it is not the party but the political system they wish to maintain which causes these issues. We must strive to create a political system that ensures all members of society are listened to and can contribute. And this must start at the very grass roots of politics, not the top.
In Tunbridge Wells, there has been a disturbing number of cases of women’s drinks being spiked in bars and clubs. This problem won’t be resolved until every woman is safe and secure while out at night. We should ask what leads some people to violent and antisocial behaviour, and aim for a culture which treats everyone with respect.
Community projects which work to safeguard and support our community never have enough funding, part of a wider problem of neglected public services which has led to problems such as the lack of NHS dental care. Capitalist society is shaped by money, with most wealth ending up with the elite and the majority left to cope with dwindling resources and high prices.
The Green Party would have you believe capitalism can be managed to mitigate the effects of industry on the environment. Locally, efforts to maintain and protect our green spaces, stop developments outside of brownfield sites, reduce traffic, and efficiently renovate properties are constrained by the economic system. The main parties merely attempt treatment of the symptoms; we propose treating the cause by advocating for a socialist society built to satisfy everyone’s needs, and those of the planet.
Shannon Kennedy, the Socialist Party candidate, Pantiles & St. Marks Ward.