It’s my first time voting and I live in Rotherham. What should I do?

by Chloe Staniforth

I’m born and bred in Rotherham, your typical working class Northern town with a Labour council since 1933.

Throw into the mix the fact my family are Labour supporters too and it’s pretty obvious who I’m expected to vote for in this year’s general election.

Yet it seems my first time voting isn’t quite as simple as that.

After all, my home town is receiving a lot of attention at the moment for all the wrong reasons.

Professor Alexis Jay was commissioned in November 2013 to lead an independent inquiry into allegations of child sexual exploitation in the town and the local council’s handling of cases.

Her report last August revealed the hidden scale of the problem in Rotherham over a 16-year period.

Now, a follow-up report from local government inspector, Louise Casey, has concluded that the council is “not fit for purpose” and identified some necessary measures for preventing further cases.

In short, Rotherham has become a by-word for negligence, callousness and incompetence. Labour couldn’t have a worse backdrop for their campaign.

I’ve grown up being educated to vote. I appreciate and thank the Suffragettes for their campaigning all of those years ago which allow me this opportunity to vote.

But, I’m afraid, I’m in an impossible position in a town where well over 1,000 females have been abused and abandoned.

I don’t feel I can trust the Labour party to rectify their awful handling of the situation, nor begin to put things right.

Rotherham has since become a major target for UKIP and a hot bed for the far right. Neither of which I would ever want running Rotherham.

So I’m left with the Conservatives – an unprecedented choice for me considering my upbringing. And a vote for the Tories seems awasted vote and would open the door for UKIP.

I feel my only choice is to act like a sulky teenager and spoil my ballot paper, but I really don’t want to lose my first vote.

What should I do?

Chloe is a first time voter


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24 Responses to “It’s my first time voting and I live in Rotherham. What should I do?”

  1. Lizzy Salander says:

    Don’t spoil your ballot paper…

    http://www.thestar.co.uk/news/green-party-surge-in-south-yorkshire-due-to-crisis-leader-says-1-7111864

    ………..think of the tree that went into making it.

  2. Matthew says:

    Have a good look at the Tories. Two things to think about, specifically: a) if the Tories are all about shagging the poor, then why was it a Tory government that has trebled the numbers doing apprenticeships – with women more likely than men to join a training scheme (the opposite was true throughout the Blair and Brown years). And b) yes the top rate of tax was cut (‘Millionaires’ Tax Cut!!’) but tax receipts from the rich are now up on where they were with a 50% rate in place. I realise a single comment here won’t break the habit of a lifetime, but I do hate it when people think because I’m a Tory I’m morally suspect. I’m not. I don’t earn much, I care for my disabled family member (his benefits payments have increased, by the way) but most Tories I know are decent people who want a strong society. Seb Lowe (your candidate) is a Londoner. I’ve never met him, but I’ve heard he’s ok. He’ll never win but at least you can vote for him knowing you’re not putting your tick against some total knob. Good luck though!

  3. Tafia says:

    Vote Green or TUSC then.

  4. Matt says:

    Chloe

    There are three issues here, one is the person who you want to represent you as an MP, the second is who you want to be running Westminster, and the third is that you want to make your displeasure with what Rotherham’s leaders have done.

    On the first, I’m not really a Labour voter, but Sarah Champion seems like a really nice woman, who is a local and seems to be doing her best to help fix things. I’ve got no idea what the other candidates are like, but she seems a pretty good person to be your constituency MP.

    On the second, I would suggest that there’s a snowball in hell’s chance of Rotherham electing a Conservative MP, so it’s down to Labour and UKIP. Now Labour might just squeak in, so if you’d like a Labour Government rather than one where UKIP are calling the shots (or at least a strong Labour opposition), then vote Labour.

    On the third, if you really want to make Rotherham a better place, then you need to get you and all your mates engaged. Seriously engaged. I mean out of the house, voting, volunteering, mentoring young girls, maybe picketing the town hall and places where dodgy stuff is going on (respecting the law and being careful for your own safety, obviously). Nasty stuff and crappy government happens not only because nasty people do it, but because the rest of the community doesn’t take a stand to say that it’s unacceptable.

    And write – lots of letters, lots of articles, you’ve asked some really good questions and Rotherham really needs people like you if it’s going to change for the better.

    P.S. As for not voting. Well it’s easy to whinge if you’re a millionaire cushioned by your dosh living somewhere very nice, but for the rest of us, if you want things to ever get better you have to make a stand.

  5. Bob says:

    Chloe: I was from the same sort of background, father first a Bevan Boy then a nurse and mother a nurse, in theory I would have been in the same position as you with familial expectations.

    Look at the world around you and what YOU and your family want to achieve and who can help you to achieve it, then cast your vote. Look behind the political propaganda, most of which would make Joseph Goebbels green with envy, look at history and then make YOUR choice not what is expected of you.

  6. Adam says:

    Why so quick to discount your Labour candidate (and MP since 2012)?

    I agree that Labour councillors have acted and behaved dreadfully in safeguarding the young people in your town. But your voting for a Member of Parliament. From everything I’ve seen, Sarah Champion has worked hard to improve the situation. She should be the start of things changing in Rotherham for the town and for the Labour Party. You should put your faith in her.

  7. Jenny says:

    Sarah Champion seems like a really nice woman?

    Sarah Champion voted moderately against laws to promote equality and human rights.
    Sarah Champion voted strongly against measures to reduce tax avoidance.

    Sarah Champion thinks it’s “hilarious” when a mob attack the members of a rival party – tacitly supporting violence above democracy (no matter how repulsive that other party might be).

    Sarah Champion represents the Labour council that turned a blind eye to the Rotherham child abuse scandal.

    Sarah Champion represents the same party that put Shaun Wright forward as SYP PCC, even knowing his failures in charge of Children’s Services in Rotherham between 2005-10.

    Don’t be bullied into voting. Sometimes the strongest message you can send is not dignifying the process that elects these obviously rotten individuals.

  8. Bob says:

    Adam: The previous MP, the criminal McShane, knew all about what happened in Rochdale and said nothing, the smell rubs off.

    “I agree that Labour councillors have acted and behaved dreadfully in safeguarding the young people in your town” surely it was criminal in covering up CHILD RAPE AND SEXUAL ABUSE to young vulnerable white females.

  9. Adam,having seen Srah Cahmpion tiered on the daily politics,try to turn the criticism of labour onto Ukip,saying they were ‘trying to cash in on it’ was disgraceful,and ignoring the criticism that has been leveled at us,to the point when UAF have heckled Ukip, preventing them protesting ,she thought it was funny,plus the joint Albour UAF attacks on EDl, saying all criticism of Labour or the local community, were by. ‘Fascists,’ was the worse sort of smearing,
    Srah champion mailing out on the inside parliament show, was,pure propaganda, she’s hadly done anything

    Obviously as a Labour member I cant tell you to vote for someone else,but I would have to think hard based on polls before hand if I was in your shoes if I’d abstain or not, I ssume ms Champion is the MP in your constituency

  10. ex labour says:

    Chloe

    I’m from a working class mining area not a million miles from your town. After 30 years of voting Labour as my parents and extended family had done for decades I realised that Labour under Brown in particular, were not representing me or my area. Having met and dealt with many of the local party comrades who ran the place like their own little fiefdom for their own benefit, it became clear that they weren’t for me, especially with an ingnorant leader in charge. Miliband and Labour are no better sadly still run by the metropolitan chatterati from their millionaire pads in trendy parts of London.

    It took some doing for me, coming from a former mining area, to take a closer look at the Conservatives, but in doing so it seemed they thought about society, the economy, eduction etc much the same as I did. I looked at the Labour rhetoric always wanting to take the moral high ground on every issue yet totally hypocritical in every area. Matthew above makes some good comments, so give it thought. Labour is not the only option.

    As for Rotherhams Labour party and coucillors they should hang their head in shame and deserve nobodys vote and seeing Champion commenting on TV and on the issues, neither does she.

    However, reality will set in and as everyone knows the good bergers of Rotherham will vote for anyone with a red rosette. But you can make a difference to the suffering of those girls and women by not following the sheep and not voting for Labour. Call it your peronal protest, but from your comments and questions you do seem to have some moral fibre.

  11. Dave Roberts. says:

    The thing to do is to get involved in local politics and get rid of the old guard who have been there for generations. These people have relied on apathy, don’t be apathetic.

  12. Robert says:

    Sarah Champion does seem to be a good MP but vote for somebody else if you do not want to vote Labour. Do not, however, vote Conservative or UKIP if you think that you are left of centre.

  13. Fred says:

    Chloe the first thing to do is to see through the tribalism, the ideology, the bile and the hatred. The second thing to do is to look at history, past performance is always a good indicator of future performance.

    The Internet is destroying tribal loyalty. Its easy for a party to be laid bare and scrutinised. IMHO Labour is a party of the past. Its laudable to present your party as a party of the people but when you add the classwar element, the tribal left ideology and it all falls apart.

    The Labour party have taught people religiously that:

    Public sector is good, private bad
    To hate other classes as racists hate people of other races.
    Political correctness is more important than outcome

    It is not wrong to have your own beliefs, shun those who vote for a party no matter what they say. Make your own mind up.

    IMHO Labour would give porr people the worst outcome, they’d bankrupt us and then tell us it all started in America.

  14. Delta says:

    Chloe,

    The only way you change organisations if from the outside. Not the inside (especially when they are not internally democratic).

    Labour has some lessons to learn, very hard ones and needs to change. You clearly still care about them so think about how you feel you can change them to make them more accountable to the good people of Rotherham. Rewarding evil does not stop it.

    Labour is no longer the Party it was it is finished as a moral entity. So use your democracy and give someone else the chance.

    I think Matthew above has it right.

  15. BenM says:

    Like millions of voters in this country you’re a victim of the ludicrous First Past The Post voting system.

    You are quite right to list the clear and deep failings of the local Labour Party in Rotherham and I say that as a defininte Labour voter in May.

    You are quite right to want the UKIP rabble kept out of Rotherham. That band of bar room bores will not help the situation there.

    In a democratic system like PR you could hawk your vote elsewhere safe in the knowldge it will count. The Tories then or maybe the Lib Dems could be the repository for your justified disgust at the events in your town.

    But under First Past The Post that means letting Farage’s torch and pitchfork brigade in the back door. And so you’re left with a Hobsons choice. As contributors say above, the sitting MP appears capable and has been strong in speaking out against the horrors permitted to continue by the police and local authority.

    One way of justifying a Labour vote in Rotherham this time is to hope a muddled result at the General Election leading to multi party coalition drives a popular groundswell of momentum for change to the voting system that will enable you to vote per your conscience for all elections to follow.

    And of course, lend your vote elsewhere in the locals.

  16. Vern says:

    I sense that the sufragette in you will stop you spoiling any ballot paper Chloe. There are some great suggestions here and my own advice is to simply “apply filters” to a lot of the rubbish that comes from the spin doctors and ask yourself if these people are credible, decent and trustworthy.
    I too come from a proud working class background and had the courage of my convictions at 18 to break rank and have never considered voting anyone else until now. I know the Tories will balance the books, you cant spend what you dont have. I also know that Labour can’t grasp this simple concept and don’t know how to run a country either.
    UKIP might provide us an opportunity to concentrate on ourselves for a while, develop the necessary infrastructure for a succesful country instead of pandering to everyone else.

    It’s a tough choice-pick a party whose aspirations match your own.

  17. james says:

    First off there are two issues – the MP and the local council.

    The MP – I’d have hesitations about Sarah Champion due to her gaffes about UKIP – I’d see how accessible she is though and just ask her straight out `do you think other parties than Labour should be able to have their say in Rotherham?` `Do you think other parties have something to say about CSE in Rotherham?` If, reading the body language, you are happy with that answer then it might be an idea to vote for her.

    The Council – it’s pretty clear there must be some political accountability through the ballot box. Forget sentiment and although I loathe UKIP I’d vote for them just once to make an important point about my town. Just voting Labour won’t make them sit up and take notice and won’t allow Labour to start from the bottom up again with new representatives.

    Think about it this way – if it were a Lib Dem or Tory council you’d have no hesitation in kicking them out. So the same goes with Labour. In the end you’re on to a winner because if UKIP run the town well it provides a standard with which Labour have to match – if they don’t then it will serve the town well to know that and get rid of them next time around with a newly resilient Labour Party,

  18. james says:

    irst off there are two issues – the MP and the local council.

    The MP – I’d have hesitations about Sarah Champion due to her gaffes about UKIP – I’d see how accessible she is though and just ask her straight out `do you think other parties than Labour should be able to have their say in Rotherham?` `Do you think other parties have something to say about CSE in Rotherham?` If, reading the body language, you are happy with that answer then it might be an idea to vote for her.

    The Council – it’s pretty clear there must be some political accountability through the ballot box. Forget sentiment and although I loathe UKIP I’d vote for them just once to make an important point about my town. Just voting Labour won’t make them sit up and take notice and won’t allow Labour to start from the bottom up again with new representatives.

    Think about it this way – if it were a Lib Dem or Tory council you’d have no hesitation in kicking them out. So the same goes with Labour. In the end you’re on to a winner because if UKIP run the town well it provides a standard with which Labour have to match – if they don’t then it will serve the town well to know that and get rid of them next time around with a newly resilient Labour Party,

  19. Vern, spoiling a ballot apart,isn’t saying one doesn’t deserve the vote,like the suffragettes ,had put too them
    It means voting but for on one on the ballot paper.

  20. Mike says:

    You should either vote UKIP would would certainly send the message that Labour are repudiated.
    Or vote Conservative as lots of decent British people do and who, as Matthew pointed out, have helped many people.

  21. Shh! says:

    Chloe.
    Though I applaud your decision of self-censorship by not mentioning the ethnicity of the rapists by mentioning the case at all means you are disrupting the plans for a multicultural paradise.
    You are therefore a racist and all racists must not be allowed to vote, or indeed speak.

  22. John P Reid says:

    Shh!, ok you comment logically has only, one conclusion,I’m sure your irreverence was ,tongue in cheek, regarding not being able to vote, but why spoil a hood pint on ignoring the ethnicity of the pedos, with a remark about taking free speech away.

  23. Carol says:

    I do not live in Rotherham but, if I did, I think I would have to vote with my conscience, and my conscience would tell me not to vote Labour on this occasion. The crimes committed in Rotherham were so heinous and the fact that those in authority ignored the plight of the girls such a betrayal that it would be wrong to reward this appalling behaviour with victory at the ballot box. Harold Wilson said of the Labour Party that it ‘was nothing if not a moral crusade’. I wish I could have that party back.

  24. Carol , when I agree with your view of Rotherham, regarding Wilkins view during his time that the Labour Party was a moral crusade is daft,
    the way the Trade unions acted, as result of the closed shop and undoing Ted heaths Industrial relations act, was criminal too, and the cover ups, surrounding corruption then, were criminal too

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