Amid the sales pitches from online viagra merchants and offers of money from Nigerian princes, I do occasionally get items of interest in my inbox. Today saw one such item: an email sent by UKIP’s Cllr Floyd Waterworth sent to all Southend councillors.
For your entertainment and elucidation, (and, yes, in the interests of transparency) I reproduce it here:
At this time of year the political parties start to announce who will be standing for them in May and try to encourage fresh faces to get elected and join the Council.
What worries me is how many genuine people will be put off by the personal attacks made on councillors. I couldn’t encourage anyone to stand for Southend Council unless they have a very thick skin.
I would therefore call on all the parties to think twice before they encourage people in their ranks to make such personal attacks.
This particularly applies to the Labour group. I have reproduced below a letter I have sent to the press in this regard and I would call on long-standing councillors such as Cllr Norman (the blogger concerned describes you as ‘principled, hard-working and dedicated’) to attempt to reign-in some of the comments made. This should also be of concern to Cllr Gilbert, who I understand is the Labour group Leader.
I have no examples of these personal attacks coming from Independents or Liberals.
Nor are there many from the Conservatives, with the exception of Cllr Courtenay, who deals in fiction rather than fact. I have written to Cllr Lamb privately in this regard.
Surely at this time of year – ‘goodwill to all men’ – we should all be looking forward to fierce debate over policy and what is best for Southend, rather than making personal attacks, which may discourage a lot of very good people from standing in May.
The letter below may well not be published, due to the number of asterisks!
Seasons greetings and best regards,
Cllr Floyd Waterworth
Labour have selected Matthew Dent to stand in Blenheim Park next May. One wonders if he’ll be in the same election as everyone else, as he thinks it’s on May 8.
Rejected decisively by the people of West Shoebury last May (13.33% compared with UKIPs 46%), Mr Dent arrives with a street map and some choice vocabulary.
Here are some of his offerings from the internet: David Amess MP is described as ‘bat s**t crazy’, whilst political opponents have ‘f****ng stupid ideas’. Oh yes, young Dent has a way with words.
And he likes to specialise in personal attacks, often without having even met the people he comments on.
It will be no worry to James Duddridge MP that Dent describes him as a ‘puppet’ of the Conservative Party Chairman.
More worrying is that people new to politics, who have bothered to put themselves up for election, also come in for the ‘Dent treatment’. Cllr Nick Ward, elected last May as an Independent for Shoebury , is described as ‘a competence-vacuum in the shape of a man’.
Unhappy about comments written in a leaflet by Cllr Mark Flewitt (Conservative, St Laurence), Dent asks: ‘Was he drunk? Has he gone mad?’
What use will Dent be to constructive debate, if he ever made it to Southend Council chamber? He did turn up in the public gallery at the last main Council but was gone within five minutes. One of his favourite films must have been on – ‘Blessed are the Damned’ and ‘American Horror Story’ are the subject of his latest reviews. The latter is also ‘bat sh** crazy’ by the way – you will see that his ideas are limited.
What I find interesting is that Labour supporters, who claim to care about people, are happy to go for the man rather than the ball.
So if Matthew Dent comes knocking at your door, my advice would be to give him a few choice words of your own!
Cllr Floyd Waterworth
Ukip, Blenheim Park
Impressive, eh? I have to say, I’m pretty damn flattered.
Alright, so first thing is first: I stand by all of the things he has quoted me as saying.
- UKIP selecting Neil Hamilton would have been a “f**king stupid idea“.
- James Duddridge’s slavishly loyal voting record speaks for itself.
- Nick Ward I have found seriously underwhelming.
- And Mark Flewitt’s leaflet was in all respects laughable.
- I cannot find where I have called David Amess “batsh*t crazy”, but it sounds about right.
(Also, the asterisks are mine; I try my best to refrain from openly swearing on this blog)
Now that that’s out of the way, what of the rest of this little essay? Well aside from the fact that I’m considering a) printing it out and framing it, and b) changing the name of this blog to “The Dent Treatment”, I do seem to be getting to UKIP, don’t I?
What I don’t understand is why Cllr Waterworth is so up in arms about it. UKIP make a big thing of freedom of speech when their candidates, councillors and MEPs are called up for saying pretty appalling things. But for all that bluster, they don’t seem to be great at taking it. As Waterworth’s party leader
Nicholas Fromage Nigel Farage demonstrated yesterday, when he described a group of schoolchildren with the temerity to make a game mocking him as “risible and in many ways pathetic.”
One suspects that he and his party are none too keen on the way that I’ve been scrutinising them. I notice that he doesn’t repeat any of my criticisms of UKIP councillors. I also notice that Cllr Courtenay’s apparent sins are kept between Cllr Waterworth and Tory leader Cllr Lamb. I might take from this that Cllr Waterworth’s indignant anger is a front for an attack on the Labour Party, and on my blog which dares to hold him and his to account.
Thing is, too often local politics goes ignored. The residents, the voters, the people in whose name all this stuff is said and done, they don’t get to actually see what is going on. True enough, in Southend the full council meetings are broadcast on the internet, but committee meetings aren’t, are they Floyd?
That’s presumably why Floyd felt safe to describe residents as “nosey” and “complainers”, knowing that he wasn’t being recorded. Everything I say is under my own name, and is published publicly and prominently. I don’t hide in unrecorded committees, or circulate critical emails leaving the subject out.
That’s probably rude though, isn’t it?
I see myself as shining a light on what goes on in Southend politics. If some of the Southend political actors are objecting to that, it suggests I’m doing a good job.
Am I putting people off? Well, I hope not. I don’t attack people without reason. Hell I don’t make a habit of attacking people. I voice my opinion primarily on their actions and statements. I would argue that would encourage people to step into local politics: if this is the current crop, do you really think you can’t do better?
So to Blenheim Park residents:
- Yes, I did get the date of the election wrong by one day, in one blog post, and I apologise for that. When you write as many blogs as I do, occasional mistakes are bound to creep in here and there.
- As far as what I have to offer to debates, well I would at least turn up to them. Unlike a certain UKIP councillor I can think of…
- I would be happy to listen to any “choice words” you have for me, and rest assured I will not publicly or privately be slandering you as “nosy” or “complainers”.
- Perhaps you might like to ask Cllr Waterworth, should he knock on your door (From the strength of canvassing so far, Cllr Waterworth doesn’t do much knocking on doors… -Ed) , why he is happy dole out the punches but not to take them?
Oh, and without a shadow of a doubt I will be continuing to shine a light on how Southend politicians behave.
Merry Christmas Cllr Waterworth, and a happy new year to you and your family. I hope you’ll continue to be as avid a reader in 2015.