So it looks like the identikit “Record” series of A5 leaflets from Southend Conservatives have reached Blenheim Park ward at last.
Or Blenheim ward, at least, with Cllr James Courtenay apparently suffering the same lack of geographical awareness as the Liberal Democrat candidate (And, given that the Green Party made the self-same mistake in their candidate announcement, we’re just waiting for UKIP to decide if they’re bothering this year, and we’ll have a full house -Ed).
These have been going out across Southend, presumably as they’re cheap and easily to produce, requiring only a change in the ward name on the front page and contact details on the back. I haven’t actually scrutinised one of these leaflets in any great depth yet, and now that I do, I’m not desperately impressed. Someone pass me a red pen.
The grammar is, to be blunt, appalling. And I don’t mean split infinitives, passive vs active, or anything really more complicated than poor and confusing sentence structure.
The headline on the back page, for instance, reads:
“The Independent Party, Labour and Lib Dems plan for Southend.“
Now, surely there should be an apostrophe in there somewhere, denoting that the plan belongs to the three administration parties? Unless it’s trying to say that said parties “are planning” for Southend. In which case, planning what for Southend? Maybe that’s the point, but looking at the same mistake repeated throughout, my instinct is that any ambiguity is entirely unintentional.
Should I be worried at this apparent level of illiteracy from the opposition lead on education? It’s all a bit George W. Bush, for me.
Now, I don’t think Cllr Courtenay wrote this copy himself, but he has allowed it to go out under his name. Did he not check through it? Or having checked through, did he not notice the frankly rampant mistakes?
The grammar, though, is a distraction from the content itself. Am I alone in being surprised that a leaflet with “record” in the title doesn’t seem to touch upon the Conservatives’ 14 year record in power in Southend? Maybe because, after fourteen years, there’s precious little good which can be said about it.
The leaflet also contains a number of, shall we say, inaccuracies, many of which seem familiar to regular readers. The saving of toilets, for instance, are claimed as Conservative victory (Well, they would say that, wouldn’t they? -Ed), when councillors from all parties pushed back strongly against Cllr Terry’s proposals.
And my favourite piece of local doublespeak is back!
“Nearly £900,000 has been taken out of the waste budget…“
When is a saving not a saving? When the Tories want to attack it, of course. Far from the “waste budget” being cut, the new contract for waste collection will save nearly £1 million, whilst providing the same — or, from what I hear, even an improved — level of service.
And whilst I’m on the subject, the leaflet fails to mention that Cllr Courtenay and his party backed a motion to spend £12,000 of the council’s reserves to save a service which wasn’t going to be cut. They even half repeat the lie here: yes, textile recycling bags (the white sacks) won’t be supplied to residents, textiles will still be collected and recycled on the kerbside.
Though I’m sure that the “hard pressed local residents” of Blenheim Park will be delighted that Cllr Courtenay tried to waste £12k of their money.