I feel like I owe Cllr Garston an apology for the slating I gave his leaflet last week. It’s not that what I said was untrue — it wasn’t; the leaflet was pretty terrible — but that a week later he has been outdone by one of his party colleagues.
Yes, Cllr Mark Flewitt has put out a new leaflet, and like his blog it lurches from subject to subject without making a great deal of sense along the way.
Was he drunk? Has he gone mad? Is he a UKIP plant? Has he, perhaps, been hacked and this is a heinous act of sabotage? Or does he perhaps actually believe that this is actually a good example of a local politician’s leaflet?
I genuinely do not know what to start with. There’s the puntastic headline which manages to take already stilted CCHQ party lines and mangle them into absurdity. There’s the laissez faire approach to grammar, which sees apostrophes scattered like seeds in a Biblical parable. There’s the fact that so many sentences just don’t scan or make sense.
But if you cut beneath the tacky veneer, the topcrust of presentational armageddon, the truth is clear: there’s nothing here.
I’m a little surprised that the dominant feature here is the European Union. Perhaps this indicates how scared the local Tories are seeing as several UKIP paper candidates took seats off them in May — one in Mark’s own ward.
The EU is, of course, not a local government issue. Its prominence may, arguably, be in support of David Amess at next year’s general election, although a) he receives nary a mention in its butchered prose, and b) he’s probably pretty relieved at that (Though, actually, his own literature is not going to be winning any prizes -Ed).
If I look for actual local issues on this “St Laurence Ward” Conservative leaflet, then I get…a single line.
“We are watching:
“2015 Council Tax – Ebola – Borrowing at Council by LIL Council“
Of these three issues:
- One is essentially the job of a local councillor.
- One has nothing to do with Southend.
- And one is still using that absurd acronym which literally nobody but Mark thinks is clever.
I also note that the only local person pictured on this leaflet is neither Cllr Flewit or Cllr Jones, but Jonathan Hodge, the defeated Conservative candidate for St Laurence in May. I wonder who will be their candidate to replace the retiring Cllr Jones?
But if the front seems light on content, that is nothing, nothing, compared to the reverse. Cllr Garston’s full page calendar and “helpful dates” seem positively inspirational compared to this.
It opens with “Let it Be”, for some reason heading a disjointed section announcing that Cllr Jones is standing down in May, before moving on to apparent adverts for Malala Yousafzai’s autobiography, James Bowen’s book “A Gift from Bob”, and a 1979 Christmas single from Kate Bush. I’m sure all of these things are wonderful, but do St Laurence Conservatives have so little to say that this is what they are putting out to residents?
Ultimately, it illustrates the same thing that Cllr Garston’s leaflet in Milton does: the Conservatives in Southend are out of ideas. Whereas Jonathan Garston made a valiant effort to disguise it, here Mark Flewitt’s perplexing mess of issues — the very opposite of clarity — leaves the reader wondering what they’ve just read.
St Laurence is served by one silent UKIP councillor, one who is already halfway out of the door, and one who apparently thinks that this CCHQ copy and confusion is what the public want from their local representatives.
In Touch? Not with reality…