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Thursday 29th April 2010

Deciding Who I'm Voting for and Why

I'm lucky enough to live in a constituency where my vote actually counts, and in my opinion, one of the most exciting electoral battles in the UK. I've been very happy with our retiring MP Lynne Jones over the years. When I've been to see her, or written to her, she's been responsive and often already done whatever it was I was asking her to do - such as supporting legislation on climate change for example. She was prepared to stand up for her principles and vote against the party line. However, she's retiring for personal reasons, and she announced this long before all the expenses furore which has hit other MPs. I want an MP who's prepared to stand up for themselves against the party, and represent the people in their constituency and who shares my views. So who should I vote for?

The new constituency of Birmingham Hall Green includes Moseley and King's Heath, and as far as I can tell there's three candidates in with a chance. Roger Godsiff (Labour), Jerry Evans (Lib Dem) and Salma Yaqoob (Respect).

I haven't always voted for Lynne, sometimes I've voted Green (when I was confident it wouldn't mean the Tories getting in). However I do trust her judgement in political matters, and Lynne Jones has said that she won't endorse Roger Godsiff, the Labour candidate. His chances have also been lowered as he's been hard hit by the expenses scandal. You can compare their voting records using They Work For You, for example on climate change Roger scored 15% and Lynne scored 87.5%, including many votes against the government. I think that the general sentiment against Labour, combined with the expenses scandal and a lack of support from Labour activists mean that Roger is out of the race.

I have met Jerry Evans a few times, and he's a likeable chap. My big concern is that Jerry would be required to go along with the other Lib Dem MPs in supporting what would effectively be a Tory government, much as has happened on Birmingham City Council. I'm also concerned that he would be lost in the Lib Dem machinery and not be able to be an independent voice for Moseley.

Finally, we come to Salma Yaqoob. She's the leader of Respect, saying "I helped to form Respect because I didn't like the politics that I was seeing around me and I thought the politicians were complaisant. There was such little to distinguish between the Lib Dems, Labour and Conservatives that the alternative progressive voice was being squeezed out." (BBC Video)

In 2005 she stood for parliament against Roger Godsiff and came second, beating the Lib Dems and Tories into 3rd and 4th place. She's currently a councillor for one of the wards in the new constituency (receiving 49% of the vote as compared with 31% for Labour and 11% for the Lib Dems) . This obviously puts her in with a good chance of being elected this time.

In addition she's got the backing of the Green Party who actually stood down their candidate in favour of her!

Lynne Jones has also backed her, saying "Salma Yaqoob is an excellent candidate of great ability who, as a councillor, has shown that she works hard for her constituents. I have a lot of time for her."

Put this together with her obvious independent, her promises not to support a Tory government, and her conditions for supporting other parties which including electoral reform, and I think you see why she's getting my vote. Whoever gets the most seats overall, Salma's influence will introduce more sense into parliament, which can only be a good thing.

Not convinced? Well, just watch one thing, her intelligent and well expressed views as shown on her appearances on Question Time. Do you think any of the other candidates could do as well?

I'd really be proud to have this woman as my MP!

P.S. If you want to see the candidates in action, there is a hustings this Sunday (2nd May), 11am, at St Mary's Church, St Mary's Row, Moseley.

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