Yesterday I looked at the Conservatives’ leaflet in Leigh ward, and it’s underwhelming approach to its candidate and the facts. The Lib Dems also have a leaflet out in the ward, and naturally, I have a copy.
Peter Wexham has been a councillor for rather a long time. 1991, says the council website, though I haven’t trawled back through the election results to see if the voters have kicked him out at any point in those 24 years.
That Leigh alone of Lib Dem held wards has been impervious to the cliff-edge over which their vote has disappeared since 2010 might explain why they feel able to put out such a lacklustre leaflet out in the only ward they stand any possibility of a win in this year.
It’s not that it’s bad. Rather it’s not, in this blogger’s opinion, good enough. This should be the standard-bearer for the Lib Dems’ achievements, such as they are, in administration. They have, after all, a hand (Well, a pinkie finger, maybe -Ed) on the local levers of power.
Reading this leaflet, though, you wouldn’t even know that they had a sniff of power. Local is good, but vague is less good, and this certainly cleaves to the vaguer side of things, and it contrasts with Cllr Wexham’s leader, the cabinet member for photo opportunities, Graham Longley.
Half of this unwieldy, A3 monstrosity is given over to the Lib Dems’ parliamentary candidate for Southend West, Paul Collins. I’ve yet to see a full leaflet dedicated solely to Paul, but I suppose funds must be hard to come by at Lib Dem HQ these days.
Regular readers may recall that Paul was a Lib Dem councillor in Westborough until he got whomped by Labour’s Kevin Robinson last May. At the time I was honest, that he was a good councillor but had ultimately paid the price for the duplicity of his party leaders. He is undoubtedly the best choice for PPC that his party could have made (And considerably better than the choice made by neighbouring constituency party in Rochford & Southend East -Ed).
His tagline “Paul Collins – A Campaigner, A Worker, A Winner!” feels a bit overly optimistic given his probable third place finish.
One thing which particularly catches my eye, is that he claims partial responsibility for saving Westcliff Library. The retention of paid staff is a joint administration policy, but it shouldn’t be forgotten that the Liberal Democrats in Southend — with the honourable exception of then-Cllr Collins — voted with the Tories to sacrifice Westcliff Library in order to save Leigh. It’ll play well to Cllr Wexham’s voters, but there’s a serious attempt to have their cake and eat it by the yellows here.
In the end this is very content-light for an A3 leaflet, with national policy tucked away towards the bottom with what feels like embarrassment, and local policy boiled down to such vague statements of intent that the I’m left with the impression that they don’t think they need to bother locally, or that it’s worth bothering nationally.
One last point which catches my eye, is this:
Yes, following the lead of Prittlewell Lib Dems, and the Conservatives in Chalkwell and Milton, the Leigh Liberal Democrats have chosen to ignore election rules that they can’t use their council email addresses on election literature.
I can’t believe that such an established councillor as Peter does not know the rules. Therefore I have to conclude he has ignored them. Another lot arrogant enough to think that the rules don’t apply to them, and who see no problem in abusing public resources to gain an unfair advantage.