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Report from apathy central

It is hard to believe that Debenham, population 2,000, has not been struck off the electoral maps. There are also vague reports reaching the heart of Suffolk of a referendum on how we might choose someone to speak on our behalf in a distant parliament.

The biggest political controversy since I moved here in the dying days of the last century has been the parish council’s spending on a circular notice board, that was christened the pissoir. It has faded into the landscape of the Market Green. Now rather tatty, it is the only place to discover that four people are seeking to represent us on Mid Suffolk District Council.

Elections are like that in Debenham. Even in general elections some candidates do not bother to push leaflets through letter boxes. I once caught a local election candidate delivering a rare leaflet and asked about the campaign. For a moment she was like a startled deer caught in headlights, then muttered “well” before turing and running away.

Never has there been a knock on the door by anyone soliciting my vote (most things are done the old fashioned way here), a phone call or an email. As for using social media to campaign, “What is the internet?”

A short walk to the noticeboard reveals the list for the district council which shows three candidates “challenging” the incombent Conservative, Kathie Guthrie.

I put “challenging” in quotes because there has been no communication whatsoever from the Lib Dem, Labour or Green candidates. Nor any election posters.

The Green candidate lives in the village. Labour had to go to Braisworth, near Eye, and the Lib Dems to distant Needham Market to find people prepared to put their names on nomination papers. Do they know where Debenham is?

It is not as though Debenham should be a lost cause for other parties: fairly recently it has been represented by Lib Dems on the district council.

But only Kathie has sent leaflets (two). I was almost tempted to vote for her as she represents the village well, but one page of her second leaflet urged me to vote “No” to AV. It is tempting to send a message to Nick Clegg as one of the two No campaign leaflets seemed to sugested, but I do believe we need to change the voting system.

The Yes campaign has sent not a single word to my home. This cannot be a cynical decision based on the calculation that Debenham is a lost cause because, in a national referendum, every vote has equal weight.

As for the parish coucil, there is no election because only three people have been nominated for five seats.

I will walk the few yards to the polling station in Dove Cottage next week because it is my habit to vote but this time without enthusiasm. I feel as if I have landed in a political black hole.

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