Monday, April 16, 2007

Back to the future - New Labour's very old campaign

I said on the blog yesterday that Labour's leaflets in Gateshead are deadly dull. Shortly after writing that, I was phoned by a constituent to tell me he had received a copy of the Labour leaflet and did I want it (as it seems everyone knows Labour don't put their leaflets through my door!) The blog yesterday was written in response to the Labour leaflet from our target ward of Lobley Hill and Bensham. So the new leaflet was one I hadn't seen before - or so I thought until my constituent dropped it off for me (as a thank you I gave him 300 Focuses to deliver!)

It turns out that the leaflet was a copy of one they put out in the neighbouring Dunston Hill and Whickham East ward 2 months ago with simply a few name changes. No particular problem with that. But then I noticed one article had been removed and the replacement raised a few eyebrows.

The article attacked us for representing the ward for 25 years (actually the Lib Dems have only held it for 21 years!) And it went on to claim we had done nothing to get youth facilities in the village of Sunniside (where I live). "We would do better," screamed the leaflet. Errrr, aren't they the ones who run the council? Aren't they the ones who have denied youth facilities to the village. And aren't they the ones we as the ward councillors have been in discussions with on many occasions about facilities in the village?

But the funniest point about the leaflet is that it attempted to raise from the dead an issue that was settled 4 years ago! In 2003 as the ward councillors, we supported the demolition of the Over 60s Hall in Sunniside village. The Over 60s Assn were desperate to get rid of the hall because it was derelict, it couldn't be rebuilt, it was an eyesore right in the heart of the village, and the Assn's members were wanting to wind up the group. Labour thought they could pull a fast one and laid claim to this derelict building as a venue for youth facilities even though the place had been condemned. The council however offered no help, money or support to any youth group to use the building. But at planning committee, Labour councillors were split and some did vote for the application to demolish the building and build a couple of houses on it. The fact Labour councillors voted for the application was completely overlooked in the tirade of abusive leaflets Labour then sent out in my ward.

The houses have now been built, an eyesore has been removed, the Over 60s gave the twenty grand from the sale to charity and Labour did rather badly at the polls.

Having run such an unimpressive, divisive and losing campaign on the issue, you would have thought Labour would want to move on from it. But no, they return to dwell on it! They even pose the question - what's happened in the past 4 years? And their answer: "Still no Labour councillor despite more than 45 percent voting against Liberal Councillors in 2003."

To which the good people of Whickham South and Sunniside have just breathed a very large collective sigh of relief!

By the way, if Labour want to play percentages, the 45 percent also includes the Conservative vote. And of course since then the overall percentage against us in the ward has dropped to 33 percent.

And one final point, is their whinge a cry for proportional representation!?
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1 comment:

George Dutton said...

Jonathan all I can say is...

You could`nt make this stuff up,you just could`nt. And this is what is running Gateshead council.

"The word 'politics' is derived from the word 'poly', meaning 'many', and the word 'ticks', meaning 'blood sucking parasites'."

Larry Hardiman