None of the above

First published in Columnists Exclusive by

Is voting for anyone in an Asian neighbourhood a waste of time?

It has come to that time of year again. Local elections tend to bring the worst out of some people. If you live in an Asian ward you have either been already been put into one camp or the other.

The old ‘Baradari’ system which dictates that you vote for one set of people rather than the other because they come from your part of Pakistan or India is well and truly alive in our wards.

As well as insisting you vote for ‘own’ people we have wards where canvassers have taken to dirty tactics to outwit their opponent’s group.

It makes no difference what the party you stand for or what the candidate can do for you. All that matters is who he is related to and who is backing him.

This is not an election as we know it.

We would like to think we have moved on over the past ten years and we now to vote for people who will improve our neighbourhoods.

You could not be further from the truth.

The Asian wards have become battle grounds for families and ‘personalities’ to prove their worth to each other.

It happened last year and it happened the year before. And when the election finished neither the councillor nor their ‘supporters’ were anywhere to be seen.

What if you are not Asian? Well, then you get lost in this confused state of affairs and actually try to vote along party lines. Yes, well good luck!

It is an embarrassing state of affairs for our community.

And it is something the majority of the community is sick to death of. But changing this is not something anyone can do quite easily.

Take for instance the situation of one candidate I spoke to. A young man who as well as speak good English (I can’t believe we still see this as a bonus!) seemed quite sincere in his efforts to help his community.

He wanted to make a change for the good and use his education and give something back to the community he was raised in. And he was a great believer that he wanted to smash this idea that people should vote based on family ties and caste.

A few months down the line I met the same man out canvassing. He was flanked by several men.

All the ideals had been washed away and he himself had got sucked into this battle to win by any means necessary. The baradari system had got itself another victim.

So, we all know that we all need to vote. It is something we should all do. But when it comes down on the ballot paper…maybe it is time we said…none of the above.

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