My political ‘moanifesto’: I’m fighting for Norfolk’s future

General election and winter on the way – and there are fears Norfolk will remain among the sitting d

General election and winter on the way – and there are fears Norfolk will remain among the sitting ducks when it comes to what some locals see as more unwanted and unwarranted development - Credit: Archant

Keith Skipper has come over all political this week with the launch of his 2019 general election 'moanifesto'!

That querulous quartet of apathy, bombast, cynicism and derision are ready to bite deeply into our democratic process yet again.

Hardly surprising to hear so many calls for a plague on all parties after televised gang warfare in the Westminster playground. Even so, a general election must be used to restore a semblance of credibility rather than extend crass behaviour.

All too often a sad majority of those who spread most abuse and anger across our political spectrum don't even bother to take their passions or grievances as far as the ballot box.

I've heard them justify such inertia with throwaway lines like "I don't want to encourage them" and "What's the point? They're all alike".

Yes, empty vessels keep clanging away while too many candidates liable to get tipsy( (if not drunk) on their own self-importance simply add to a febrile climate in Parliament and on the streets.

It's too easy to agitate and so hard for meaningful debate to break out. Insults and cheap slogans multiply while mutual respect, good manners and basic honesty flounder, not least in the murky shadows of social media where made-up names and vitriolic comments abound.

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Old faithful "It keeps coming up on the doorstep" asks for strong stomachs to swallow more harsh economic medicine. Meanwhile, "We'll take that one on board" and "We hear what you say" suggest they're not really interested in your pleas to single the A11, cobble the A140 and ban all lorries on the A47.

Now, all this verbal fun and games must not preclude an odd burst of stark criticism mixed with a probing spirit as we head for December 12. Those seeking to retain or win seats must expect awkward questions about the way many see Norfolk being horribly disfigured by far too much unwanted and unmerited development,

Loss of a unique character, community cohesion and quality of life are at stake. We should not be fobbed off with all-purpose pronouncements such as "Our hands are tied by national policies" and "People must have somewhere to live".

This is Norfolk's battle, probably one of the most significant in recent history, and Norfolk votes should be firmly cast in favour of those ready to fight obvious perils … traffic congestion and dangerous pollution, wrecking the countryside, ignoring natural erosion and artificial colonisation along our precious coastline and denying young folk a chance to stay close to local family toots.

That's my doorstep "moanifesto" ready to share with enthusiastic canvassers wearing big rosettes and fixed smiles. Whatever the answers, I may politely decline any invitation to reveal where my vote is bound. It's not called a secret ballot for nothing.

Local council stalwarts and hopefuls, some of them close neighbours, have grown to realise they have some chance of favour if they promise to get rid of pesky pigeons, thoughtless parking, dirty dog-owners and dastardly drivers who pass my home while clutching and prattling into mobile phones

I'll be obliged to repeat that list yet again next time local democracy is exercised. Little has changed since we moved into our current house over 30 years ago. We did mourn sudden loss of a glorious horse-chestnut tree and several other little green lungs along the street.

Okay, we're not talking Brazilian rain forests or Delhi smog levels here. But the climate change challenge needs to be treated seriously at every level. My big fear is it will surge into prominence on this general election hustings - and then be swiftly returned to the "any other business" column.

I'm more concerned now about my native patch than during baptism-of-fire months in the early 1960s when I stared my career as a Norfolk newshound in Thetford just as London overspill suggested our county might never be the same again.

A grossly offensive planning system backed by a succession of governments blithely bent on desecration of our countryside has constantly ignored local needs and wishes. "Have your say" and "Now it's up to you" are no longer genuine invitations from reasonable landowners, builders, planners and politicians.

They are hollow platitudes symptomatic of a greedy and crass creed dressed up as "grasping golden opportunities". Like doubling the size of a contented small village in one cruel stroke?

Should anyone darken my doorstep in the next few weeks with accusations of living in the past, I will respond firmly but politely: "No, I am fighting for Norfolk's future".