Tuesday, December 06, 2011

This Labour candidate should explain herself

Elaine Dobson is the Labour candidate for Lib Dem held Whickham North in Gateshead, the neighbouring ward to mine. She has stood a number of times before and has an impressive record of defeat at the polls, including in my own ward when she stood as Labour candidate in a by-election in 2008.

Back in the autumn of 2007, when the election-that-never-was was happening, Mrs Dobson edited a leaflet which was delivered in both Whickham North and my ward. I wrote about it at the time on my blog (12th October 2007). In summary, Labour claimed Lib Dem run Newcastle set up a recycling scheme, then immediately abandoned it, wasting millions in the process. The problem with the story was that it was a complete work of fiction. It was completely made up.

Though I wrote to Mrs Dobson at the time and asked her to withdraw the claims she had made, she didn’t even bother to acknowledge my letter.

It seems Mrs Dobson’s difficulties with actual events have made a reappearance over the past few months. So here’s a story about a tangled web of intrigue spun by Mrs Dobson.

Back in May, a planning application was submitted to install a very large phone mast on an estate in Whickham North. Mrs Dobson sent a letter to residents telling them about the application and advising them on how to make comments on the application. She avoided making any commitment either for or against.

Mrs Dobson was not exactly a quick starter. Her letter went out a month after our Focus Team (minus Cllr Chris Ord who is on the planning committee) had delivered letters and collected a large number of signatures on a petition opposing the application.

The application came before the planning committee in late June and was approved, on the casting vote of the chairman. I represented residents to speak against the application. I was joined by Focus Team member and local resident Sonya Hawkins. Mrs Dobson was not present, nor had she sent in any objections.

Later the same day we had delivered our Focus newsletters to the estate to tell residents the news.

Weeks went by and the mast was installed. To the horror of residents, it stands like a huge, green-coloured chimney only metres from people’s homes. And so another letter to residents is produced by Mrs Dobson.

In this letter, she states, “As you know, I opposed the application to install this mast at this location.” This came as news to everyone so we checked again and found that she had made NO objections to the application to planning officers.

There is also something remarkably arrogant about her dealings with residents. “As you know,” she began. Who on earth does she think she is to make the assumption that everyone knows both who she is and her opposition to the mast, especially as she had not informed people of her opposition. She must have a rather inflated view of herself.

Her letter then goes on to claim that “I have raised this [the appearance of the mast] with the Planning Department at Gateshead Council.” A colleague checked out this claim. He was informed that the Department had not received anything from her.

Mrs Dobson rounded off her letter with, “If you would like to speak to me about this in the meantime, please give me a call on the number above.”

That seems a reasonable way to finish a letter. Isn’t it nice that she is giving people the opportunity to speak to her? Except....the phone number was not above. Now was it below or even in between. There simply wasn’t a number on which she could be called. Nor did she include her home address or an email.

My guess is that residents had one of two responses to this: Mrs Dobson is either incompetent or is taking the piss.

I saw Mrs Dobson briefly on Remembrance Day. The procession was just beginning to assemble. Labour’s candidate for Dunston Hill and Whickham East was there as well and my attention was focused on him and Yvonne McNicol, Labour councillor for this latter ward. Mrs McNicol was giving the latter candidate a helping hand to gatecrash the councillors’ area of the procession. I pointed out to Mrs McNicol that as the councillors represent the mayor, turning a Remembrance Day parade into a party political stunt was completely inappropriate. She sent him packing after I said I would be taking this matter further.

At least Mrs Dobson had by then disappeared from my view. Nevertheless, she needs to explain why there is a significant mismatch between her claims and her actions (or lack of them). If she bothers to give an explanation, I’m happy to publish it.


Anonymous said...

is this worthy of comment?

The answer is almost that it is not.

We find this type of arrogance so wide spread in out dealings with the Labour Party locally (and nationally if it comes to that).

Is it borne out of a certain lack of intelligence and sophistication on the part of the average Labour activist – well at least compared to our lot?

Normally, I would say "Probably not" and then go on with my explanation after giving them that benefit of the doubt, at least as far as their intellectual abilities are concerned.

It does happen far too often, however, to be absolutely certain there is not an undercurrent of daftness...

Anyway, let us assume that they do not really believe these clear untruths themselves.

Let us therefore go on to explain, on their behalf how they can put blatant untruths up there and expect them, not only not to be noticed as untruths, but to be believed.

Possible explanations:

1. They rely on that they are talking, not to everybody, but only to members their own tribe. This the mass of supporters who would vote for them come what may, and need only to be given any reason whatsoever to vote for Labour. With this bias they are released from any need to form a judgement as they have committed themselves to their 'team' and will believe them whatever happens. The rest, they are not bothered with.

2. Similarly, the average Labour activist is used to the many occasions when they have talked emotionally with half truths but with enough emotion have been believed. Thus their self-critical faculties have been softened and they feel they can run off at the mouth.

3. They rely upon a left leaning local media not to pick them up on these blatant untruths, and so not use the occasion to paint them as not to be trusted enough to make them worthy for office.

4. They rely upon the poverty of our own response machine in the past to be able, quickly to drive the truth down their throats. They feel our own Focus deliveries schedules are not normally designed to give an immediate battering to such an easy target.

So what is the answer?

My own view is implied above.

With such an easy target, and as they are without even a small shield of truth to protect them, it is more than cost effective to tell the tale as you told it so well above, in an immediate one-topic Focus immediately, and just dare them to respond. End it in a series of questions again, daring them to be answered.

If they do respond then a wonderful exercise in repeating their answers and showing why they cannot be believed.

However, they will probably not respond, but then we can put out yet another Focus repeating the facts of their sin, castigating the sinner and perhaps putting to the populace the above reasons we feel they they decided they were able to tell the 'big lie' .

I can hear them bending under the onslaught, and I believe that the personalities involved, if not the whole Labour party would take quite some time to straighten up again.

With this in their history, remind the electorate again and again of the issue, the questions, the lack of explanation.

Put it this way – they would do it to you...

Anonymous said...

...perhaps a slightly better version of my response is at


Jim Murray