Some very interesting stuff has cropped up since I last wrote, and which, if I have time, I’ll tap out later between running round Beeston this afternoon after a famous person, and the I Love Beeston Awards later this evening, which I helped to judge.
For now, the excellent Robert Howard (you may remember him for the exceptional stylised maps he designed for Beeston) has submitted a guest piece, and it’s a corker. He’s also offered me some tadpoles. Politics and ponds. My two current obsessions collide… Over to Rob:
What the manifestos don’t say
The aim of this contribution is to encourage you to think about what the political parties standing in Broxtowe are not telling you, then you can ask the candidates for answers and to share their replies with Matt and this blog.
You know the saying: ‘Lies, damn lies and statistics’. So it is with both the general election and Broxtowe Borough Council elections, except politicians, like accountants, civil servants, historians, the media and the NHS to name just a few, play the same game with words — they lie by omission — which is why they don’t like being asked questions they are not prepared for.
Writing in the latest issue of the Beeston Express, David Watts, a Liberal Democrat, says ‘(LibDems) are putting equal emphasis on the local elections… We’ve done this because we are committed to the area’. The truth is a little different. LibDems are so ‘committed’ as to be fielding only twenty-seven candidates and none at all in six wards. This cannot, by any measure, be described as an ‘equal emphasis on the the local elections’. Nowhere do they tell Broxtowe voters this, nor do they apologise.
Knowing this whilst attending the hustings meeting at Beeston Parish Church made me want to gag every time the Liberal parliamentary candidate opened his mouth. How can you profess ‘to care about Broxtowe’ when you put up very few candidates? The same applies to the Greens and UKIP.
The National Pensioners Convention (http://npcuk.org/1940) have published on their website a useful ‘summary of manifesto pledges’. In the absence of a party pledge in relation to a particular policy area, NPC have kindly included the phrase ‘No comment’. I suspect it will come as no surprise to learn that 44 (37%) out of 119 policy boxes contain the words ‘no comment’.
No-go policies appear to include the not long abolished retail price index (RPI), universal benefits, progressive taxation, dental care, the ever-upward state pension age and buses (the latter far more important to most public transport users in Broxtowe than the tram, HS2 or railways) or museum charges. I could go on, but I want you to compile your own list of omissions.
If Nick Palmer wins Broxtowe and the Labour Party the borough council, it will be because they have worked year in, year out, in every ward. None of the other political parties have, as witnessed by their failure to contest every council seat and every ward. At the end of day this is why I will be voting Labour on 7 May. I also want Scotland to elect enough SNP MPs to stop Labour drifting any further to right (which, Matt, is why the SNP will play a part in how England votes).
The Tories have just spent five years in bed with the Liberals (for that is what they are — the ‘Democrat’ tag comes from the days when they got into bed with renegade right-wing Labour politicians), so it is difficult to understand why Labour having to rely on SNP backing to govern is any different?
I will end with some words from a old Beestonian friend now living in Edinburgh:
SNP still has a lot of support up here as you can imagine. Jim Murphy isn’t really making much headway for Scottish Labour that is my feeling. Nicola Sturgeon is very popular – especially after Salmond. She’s hard working and sensible and passionate.Despite my feelings about the referendum and rampant nationalism(!), due to the lack of good policies in the current Labour party, I can see why the SNP would be a force for good in Westminster. However, people need to understand the SNP will never give up on independence and they will play dirty if need be. Very dirty!The Tories are indeed offending folk up here even more than usual. Is this deliberate or just arrogance? And they offend me all the time! I hate their latest housing policy, selling off more social housing etc. It’s awful, does nothing to address the real problem and focuses on the individual, not what is best for the community, for society.I have no objection to coalition – providing Tories are not part of it!
Just for once, I want to defend another party. The problem in putting up candidates is not usually lack of interest but that there is a shortage of people willing to do the job. Labour has candidates everywhere at borough level because we’re currently doing well in membership (though we aren’t competing for every town council seat). But I’d really like to encourage supporters of every party to get involved in them – democracy withers when people don’t bother!
Nick, I agree with the ‘get involved’ bit 100%. It isn’t just a case of finding 44 candidates for the borough election, you then need to find the signatories for the nomination papers. The failure/inability to put up ward candidates by national parties fighting local elections is a measure of their claims to be representative of widely held views and I think it not unreasonable to point this out.