THIS is a general election, not a referendum. We are voting for the person who will represent us for the next five years. We should ask ourselves what is important for our area. Was the right person selected?

Locally, the party elected is usually a foregone conclusion. This should not be a constraint. It means national issues and party promises need not concern us. We should vote for someone we can be proud to call our MP. By reducing majorities, we display our individual personal high standards, showing that who represents us matters.

What does the candidate do in our area? How does s/he represent us? Does s/he appreciate the needs of women, the young, the poor? What does s/he do to help them – other than at election time? Is s/he aware of the numbers of rough sleepers and Foodbank users? Can we feel pride in our MP? Does he conduct himself with honour and integrity? Or does he manipulate us to get into Parliament to do his own "Parliamentary things"?

For some MPs, being elected is membership of the old buffers club.

Communities need someone who cares passionately about the people of the constituency, who knows what is going on and is genuinely involved locally: not just for photo opportunities at election time or the odd surgery.

People have fought for the right to vote and each vote counts. Is the candidate good enough to deserve our votes?

IRENE CRADICK, River Way, Christchurch