One of my photos

Dirty Tricks – part two

April 25th, 2006 · Posted by Skuds in Politics · 1 Comment · Politics

The second dirty trick I heard about is one which will not be in the newspapers and which I should probably not talk about. It makes me angry, and I am always prone to respond a bit, shall we say, robustly when I am angry. Also it concerns a document which I have not actually seen yet, but have heard about from several sources. While I should wait until tomorrow when I get hold of a copy myself, its hard.

The thing is that I am positively calm and collected compared to Jayne who is fuming.

Anyway, this document is the latest kindergarten letraset newsletter from our local Tory councillors. Normally I am not too bothered by what they say, and would actively encourage Alan Quirk to write more as his tenuous grasp of reality means that we probably pick up more votes from him talking to people than from us talking to people.

I have always turned a blind eye to the way they take the achievements and plans of the Labour party and claim them as their own thanks to the miracle of cut & paste – the Town Centre North project, the university plans, and the new surgery in Broadfield (plans for which were doing the rounds in 2003/4 before we ever had a Tory councillor in the area)

I have never even bothered to ask them how they intend to “increase investment in grass-cutting, street cleaning and litter collection” (which is already happening), “increase the resources available to the Community Wardens” (who Labour introduced to the town) and “provide high quality services” while “keeping the council tax rises to the rate of inflation or lower”. I can do sums, I spent some time doing management accounts, and the only way to increase expenditure in some areas while reducing income is to either cut other services drastically or to piss away the council’s reserves. But you have to expect such wild claims in electoral literature.

I even ignored, though it was difficult, the way they claimed to have saved the health centre, when it was never in any danger, as the lie was so low-key it was hardly noticeable.

What I really cannot ignore is the latest newsletter, in which they have decided to lie much more blatantly, prominently, and sinisterly. I first heard about it last night from someone who wrote and asked if it was true that there was a travellers’ site planned for Tollgate Hill. I did not pay much attention, knowing full well that there are no such plans, until I got a reply saying that “the latest info I have is from a Conservative newsletter – I normally bin political newsletters but this one caught my eye.”

My first thought was that they really must be desperate and worried if they will resort to such tactics, and put it down to relatively harmless scaremongering, but I remembered that this is not unprecedented. A similar tactic was used in Furnace Green in 2004, and look what happened there (a leaflet was left on cars with a picture of a traveller saying something like “I want to live here, vote Labour so I can come and stay”. Unfortunately I did not see it myself, but it sounded a lot like those infamous leaflets from the 60s. You know the ones.)

It is a not-so subtle twist on the idea of inventing a past potential problem and saying you prevented it like they do with the Health Centre – invent a threat and then say you are against it.

The reason I am so angry is that I know I, Jayne and the rest of the Broadfield party are not prepared to sink that low, so we cannot compete on that level. A shame. It would be so easy to just say, for example, that the Tories intend to withdraw all bus services from Broadfield but we will fight to save them – except even that does not tug at the same emotional strings as the traveller issue. Having travellers live nearby is something people fear. Losing a bus service is something they would dislike but not on an emotional level. Very clever, in a despicable way.

For the record, a council committee, one without decision-making powers, was looking at potential sites for travellers and three or four years ago it looked at the Pease Pottage site but rejected it. The kennels site was also looked at, which is within the boundaries of Broadfield but on the other side of a hill and across four lanes of dual carriageway, and was also rejected. On top of everything, the vice-chair of the committee was a Conservative and apparently quite committed to investigating suitable sites. Whichever way you look at it, and putting aside the question of whether the town should, or should not have a travellers’ site, that does not represent a plan or an intention by the council to locate one in Broadfield.

In fact, as the only two spare parcels of land within Broadfield have now been identified and rejected it is the exact opposite. What makes the whole thing even more despicable is the ever-so-slightly racist undertones of the suggestion. And this is from a councillor who, I was told, only escaped having formal complaints against him for making racist comments by the skin of his teeth. (He was making broad hints about there being too many foreigners without knowing that the white lady he was talking to was a muslim convert who had married into an immigrant family.)

I sat on that because I only heard the comment second-hand from the lady in question, and felt sure he would repeat such rubbish in front of me one day.

The biggest laugh? The last claim on the Tories’ glossy election addresses is “A fresh new council and everyone’s invited!”. Well. Unless they are travellers obviously, and preferably not too foreign. Or teenagers. They don’t seem too keen on having them hanging around either.

Anyway, Jayne had a phone call from someone today asking if these ‘allegations’ were true, saying he had talked with his neighbours and if it was true they were all going to vote Conservative. Who said ‘cheats never prosper’ eh?

These are just my initial thoughts. When I get hold of the newsletter, which they neglected to post through our door for some reason, I will probably get really wound up. One thing though: I am really looking forward to knocking on doors this weekend…

Tags: ·····

One Comment so far ↓

  • Rihard W. Symonds

    “Don’t let them Con you” seems a worthy mantra when knocking on those doors.

    Obviously, the right-wing local Tory Party is learning more ‘dirty tricks’ from their extreme right-wing BNP colleagues.