Britain could learn an awful lot from Royal Wootton Bassett. They had their Mayor Making last Thursday 5 th May, coinciding with Mayoral, Regional and Local Government elections across the UK. It was a great event- a chance to thank outstandingly good outgoing Mayor Ian Ferries, and welcome back the new Mayor, Mary Champion and her Deputy, Steve Bucknell. But it was also a chance to celebrate all that is great and good about Bassett, especially the young people, who are to be the theme of the new Mayor’s year. It was a happy community event in a packed church, free of party politics, and just rejoicing in the vibrant civic life of this wonderful little town.
National election results seemed almost tawdry by comparison. I am delighted that Police and Crime Commissioner Angus Macpherson was elected to serve another term, the Labour Party coming second. I commiserate with the Lib-Dem candidate who just pipped UKIP to third place. He has now stood in two general elections, Wiltshire Council, the elections for the European Parliament and the PCC elections, and lost them all. What magnificent dedication to the democratic process that must take. We need more people with that kind of selfless determination to serve, and no doubt I can look forward to campaigning against him again in 2020.
The Tories were encouraged by becoming the second party in Scotland and the official opposition in Holyrood, but disappointed to lose the London Mayoral election to Labour. Local government results across England were pretty mixed for all of the parties, all of whom tried to ‘spin’ them as being a triumph, or at least not as bad as they had feared. It’s all good fun, and important that we have the right and opportunity to vote for all of the various levels of government.
I was especially pleased to meet at the Bassett Mayor Making a lady who had been one of the ‘Bletchley Park girls’ in the second world war. She had particular involvement with the Enigma de- coding machines invented by Alan Turing amongst others. Their efforts, of course, helped defeat Nazism, just as we are struggling against dictatorship in so many parts of the world today.
Our democracy may be the ‘least bad of the options available’, as Churchill is said to have described it. But it works, and it is worth fighting for – in Orkney and Shetland, Holyrood, Peterborough, London or Royal Wootton Bassett alike.