Next up is David Watts. Watts is a regular to these pages his less-than-honest, aggressive style matches his football allegiance to Leeds United perfectly; and similarly makes for good copy.
His political career now looks over, after reaching a high in 2010 when he proclaimed himself the other horse in a two horse race to be the next MP for Broxtowe. Privately, it seems Lib Dem Central Office had briefed him to get 20%, which he failed to do. Still, he persisted with the lie that he was in with a chance, and ushered in the dreadful rein of Soubz as a result.
He then went to stand in Newark in a by-election, where he was briefed to not lose his deposit. He lost his deposit, and racked up the worst post-war Lib Dem by-election result in history.
He’s now on an equally pointless mission up in Skegness fighting to take the seat there, against a UKIP battle. Again, it’s looking likely that he will lose another £500 in deposit money for the Lib Dems.
His career locally, as Borough councillor for Bramcote, looks perilously close to being over: with the popular, avuncular Stan Heptinstall retiring, Watts is hugely exposed: he narrowly scraped the seat in 2011. Desperation makes desperate men do desperate things, and Watts, not a gent too attached to the truth, has lashed out at me. With the Lib Dems best hope for a glimmer of hope on Thursday snubbed out in neighbouring Ashfield with the resignation of Jason Zadrozney after he was arrested on allegations relating to child sex abuse, they are now in utter disarray, and it shows.
Let’s get some back-story here. Over the last few weeks, I had a few bits of correspondence sent over with people asking if the Bramcote Today website was ran by a political party. I didn’t think so, as I’ve always found it a pretty useful thing to read and, while it does post up political stuff, it’s third party hosting of politicians newsletters, rather than editorial.
However, several posts directly from one of the editors, on the subject of the SNP (who, last time I checked, aren’t standing candidates here) drew that into question. Utterly nothing to do with Bramcote, they were clearly a case of editorial being influenced by political bias.
They also refused to host comments made by Independent Stapleford Councillor Richard MacRae that criticised David Watts: on the rather bizarre grounds that Watts might sue. This is an inversion of editorial code, the presumption of guilt before a comment is hosted.
Again, I don’t have a problem with that. Be political all you want, if that’s your choice. I am, after all, and biased to the left. I am, however, independent, running this site entirely from my own pocket. Not so Bramcote Today.
A chunk of their funding comes from Lib Dem councillors, via what is known as the County Divisional fund. This is a dollop
of cash given to each County Councillor to spend on community projects: charities, youth initiatives, etc. As it is taxpayer money, these funds cannot be allocated for anything with a party political bent. This would be gross misappropriation.
I don’t think there is a grand conspiracy, more a misunderstanding of the rules. I have corresponded with the editors that run Bramcote Today, and they have written back explaining that editorial independence is very important to them, etc. They didn’t answer why recent editorials were running lines that favour the Lib Dems.
There are many precedents here. The ‘Rotten Boroughs’ column in Private Eye has many cases of all parties misappropriating funds to campaign, with the Lib Dems perhaps the most frequently highlighted. It would be a shame if Bramcote Today was hijacked, either wittingly or unwittingly, by a party line consistent with elements of their funding. A great community resource would be tainted.
Yet David Watts was FURIOUS I even questioned this. He launched attacks on me not by emailing me to discuss it rationally, but by using a mix of piss, vinegar and misinformation to make his case. He lied about my political motivation – calling me a ‘Labour Party Activist’ -without a shred of the irony that being called a person that parties over policies by a BLOODY POLITICIAN – and when I asked him to refute the claims, he refused to reply, instead going whinging to, weirdly, Nick Palmer.
He then went to Bramcote Today in a whirl of anger, who posted up a statement he sent them attacking me, in full.
I asked Bramcote Today that, in reference to, and consistent with, their editorial policy when allowing posts that were libellous, they would remove demonstrably untrue claims made by Watt’s, as they did Richard MacRae’s critical posts a few months back . They refused. Not doing much to allay any fears there.
Watts then went on a froth on his newsletter. As this will most likely be his last one beside a valedictory one next week, it was nice to get a mention. Yet his defence of the Lib Dems / Bramcote Todays overlap shows a nerve has been touched.
Watts. If you feel anything I have said here is libellous, untrue or anything else, please stop venting spleen over the public and address me directly. Issue a writ against me. I stand by what I write. Do you stand by what you say?
I doubt you do. Watts famously got caught out telling an utter porker in the 2013 County Elections. While being interviewed while out canvassing by BBC Radio 4, he was harangued by a woman for his arrogance towards the Field Farm issue. The interview cut away, but it was clear she was pissed off with Watts.
Alex Britton, chief political writer on the Nottingham Post tweeted Watts:
Except there was a problem. A pretty huge problem. Here is a picture of the woman involved, taken earlier that day. She’s with her son.
Her name is Linda MacRae. She is a long term Stapleford resident, and a very nice lady: I grew up just up the road from her. That guy is Richard MacRae. Regular readers will know him as a Stapleford activist and town councillor, who has been the brunt of a huge amount of Lib Dem attacks over the years.
Not the best person to lie about, really. She wasn’t very happy with Watts after this.
But fib he did, and this really sums Watts up pretty well. A cynical, grasping, liar of a politician (unsurprisingly, he also works in law: the worst politicians always seem to have that overlap).
We will be losing a wonderful, inclusive, intelligent and genuinely caring borough councillor when Stan Heptinstall stands down on Thursday. The contrast between him and Watts could not be starker.