Am I alone in detecting a sense of weary resignation in the headline “Bernard selected again…“, as the Conservatives announce Bernard Arscott as their candidate for Leigh ward in May?
Of course, the leaflet needs to tell voters who the party’s candidate is (Even if, as with Prittlewell Lib Dems, they only do so as the merest afterthought -Ed), but I’m slightly amazed that they can’t muster even a little enthusiasm for their candidate.
And if they can’t, how are the voters supposed to?
As the leaflet points out, this is Bernard’s third try at cracking the Lib Dem stronghold of Leigh ward. And, to be fair to him, his odds have been gradually improving. Whilst other Lib Dem fortresses in Prittlewell and Blenheim Park wards have all but collapsed, Leigh alone stands strong. This year, though, there will be a serious reckoning against the yellow party, as all of the broken promises of Nick Clegg and the parliamentary party come home to roost.
That, though, is not a guarantee, or anything like it.
One thing which immediately catches my eye is his claim that:
“I intend to carry on actively trying to make residents’ life easier in the town.“
A joke, surely. In five years in power in Westminster, Bernard’s party have left each family at least £1,100 worse off, as as much as £1,800 if you’re unfortunate enough to be a single parent on the minimum wage.
And locally, fourteen years of Conservative administration left Southend residents bearing heavy cuts to libraries, children’s centres and care homes, whilst expensive vanity projects were indulged at local taxpayers’ expense.
How much of this is making “residents’ life” — which is a grammatical mess, for the record — any easier I’m not sure.
The leaflet goes on to attack the increase in council tax in the joint administration’s budget, particularly the refusal to take Eric Pickles’ council tax freeze bribe — a disastrously short-term measure which would see council budgets cut even further back in years to come.
A rise of 1.95% in council tax is the equivalent to £2 a month on a band D property. With that £2 a month the joint administration have ensured paid staff are retained in libraries, that no children’s centres are closed, and that Priory House care home — which the Conservatives tried to close — will be saved.
When reflecting on how to “make residents’ life easier”, Mr Arscott might want to consider that his election on May 7th would achieve exactly the opposite.