Even to the casual observer, it is obvious that neither of the two major parties dominating Southall local politics has the interest of the town or its residents as their raison d’etre. Not surprisingly, as the election time draws near party activists will be out in force pulling the wool over people’s eyes with handshakes and beaming faces. The rhetoric on doorsteps and at places of worship will be unashamedly self-serving and disingenuous.
Anybody who thinks otherwise may be well advised to reflect on the calibre and achievements of the councillors elected to represent Southall. Surely it is not unreasonable to expect that our councillors are able to read, write and speak English to a good level, and to be proficient in the use of Information Technology? Most sane people would consider this to be a minimum requirement for anybody considering standing for election as a councillor. Sadly, the reality for Southall is disappointing and frankly rather disturbing. Whilst Southall has a handful of councillors who are extremely able and effective in working for their wards, many are woefully ill-equipped for such an office, and if truth be told, are often a laughing stock at council meetings. No wonder Southall is treated as a second class ghetto within Ealing.
What is even more sinister is that this sorry state of affairs is perpetuated by both the major parties. Try asking them why they do not have any standards or selection criteria to ensure that prospective candidates standing under their banner are suitably qualified and keen to serve the people who might elect them into office. You might as well be hitting your head against a brick wall. One might be forgiven for thinking that if the Labour or Conservative had their way they would be prepared to select a monkey to stand in Southall if they thought the people would vote for him or her. ‘Dirty politics’ may be an apt phrase to describe the workings of local politics within Ealing’s political parties – the will to power is far greater than the will to serve.
Given the failure of the local political parties to represent the interests of Southall, the only hope would seem to lie in electing dedicated independent candidates who are willing and able to work for this part of the borough. This unfortunately is an uphill struggle, as the people of Southall tend to vote like sheep. Let’s hope that with the changing complexion of the population of Southall the situation might change for the better.