Last week a reporter at our local newspaper contacted me seeking the ages of our local councillors as they wished to run a story on how the ages of councillors compare with the wider population. I was somewhat irritated by this as
(a) it's irrelevant,
(b) it's ageist, and
(c) it's intrusive
I did wonder how the newspaper would react if I sought the ages of each of their journalists and then published a blog inferring they could not write for older generations as none of their journalists were retired!
The following is my response to the journalists email:
Thank you for your email requesting the ages of our local councillors.
I am disappointed that the KM Group is considering such an article as it pre-judges that a councillor's age is relevant or a reflection on his or her abilities. The Conservative Party does not ask for a potential candidates' age, marital status, race or disability on its application form and this is not discussed at any stage during the process. Nor does the official nomination process require this information. We judge an applicant solely on their ability to do the job, if elected, and I am proud of this approach.
I suspect I speak on behalf of all political parties locally when I say we would welcome candidates from all backgrounds and positively seek to encourage applicants who are not traditionally politically active. Indeed, last year, the Conservative Party in West Kent spent around £5,000 on press and direct mail seeking to attract new applicants into local government. It is unfortunate that the press release promoting our well-intentioned, progressive and radical approach did not generate any interest from the local media who appear instead determined to focus on other issues (such as age) which I do not believe the voters consider relevant.
For the above reasons I am not prepared to disclose the ages of our candidates or councillors without their individual consent.
With best wishes