Well it’s either the worst or the best, I can’t decide which.
“Dazzling” Daryl Peagram was the Tory candidate for Westborough in May, and regular readers may recall that he had a penchant for producing particularly bizarre election literature which more closely resembled dispatches from a post-apocalyptic alternate reality.
Fortunately (Umm -Ed) for residents and local political anoraks, Dazzling Daryl is the Conservative candidate for Westborough again in 2016, and his leaflets are unchanged in their absurdity.
It’s a terrible cliche, to say that you don’t know where to start with something, but here I truly don’t. There’s just so much wrong with this, that my work colleagues genuinely thought it was a spoof leaflet at first.
Of all the people in Southend Labour to try and brand as a bunch of dangerous commies, the Westborough Labour team is probably the worst place to start. I can’t think of a trio who seem less like out-of-control radicals than Kevin Robinson, Charles Willis and Anne Jones.
I don’t really want to go through every incorrect claim on this leaflet, because this is a blog post and not War and Peace, but the overall impression is of Joseph McCarthy reincarnated in Westborough, convinced that socialists are lurking around every corner. Daryl’s paranoia genuinely concerns me.
Not, though, quite as much as his grasp of numbers. Take his claims under the subheading “Money”, in the amusingly named section “Socialism-On-Sea”:
“The Socialist council keeps asking for more money. Last year when inflation was 0% they asked for an extra 1.95%. Now they have raided your emergency reserve fund for £9,000,000, plus they have maxed out your council credit card with a £9,465,000 loan for left leaning council tenants.“
A few things occur.
- Inflation was at no point, last year or this year, at 0%.
- The 1.95% increase (in council tax) was to offset an £11m cut to Southend’s budget by, err, the Conservative-led government.
- The emergency fund is there for precisely this sort of emergency. Besides, councils up and down the country are being instructed to spend their reserves by the Conservative Chancellor of the Exchequer, that dangerous socialist George Osborne.
- Leaving aside that no loan, £9.46m or otherwise, has been made to council tenants, how would the council discern which were “left-leaning”?
The trouble with this sort of nonsense is that it’s not even remotely credible. Take the section on litter:
“Only the Conservatives will push to reinstate binmen’s 5-day week…and protect weekly bin collections. The socialist coalition…put out binmen on a 70s-style 4-day week.“
Well, as I’ve said before on this blog, the 4 day collection cycle will save nearly £1m — at a time when the Tories in Westminster are slashing our funding — and actually make life more convenient for residents by meaning that collection schedules don’t have to change every Bank Holiday Monday. I hope that the local Tories aren’t opposing this saving, but if they are they’re on just as much of a hiding to nowhere as their previous — here repeated — scaremongering about utterly false threats of fortnightly collection.
For those fans of Daryl’s offerings earlier in the year, the theme of the council nationalising the high street has returned. I’m still not sure a) what he’s on about, and b) what he thinks alarmist, nonsensical rubbish like this will achieve, but he seems fairly taken with the notion. The fact that he directs readers to “ask shoppers in the Soviet Union“, a state which has not existed since 1991, is only further evidence that Dazzling Daryl is not operating on the same plane of reality as the rest of us.
One small piece which particularly grabbed my interest was this:
“As the Tories have no whip, [Daryl] can vote independently for Westborough.“
My response to this is the same as it was to the Greens, with their lofty claims of having no whip: if you have no whip, then you cannot guarantee delivery of any promises you make to the electorate. It’s a political absurdity, particularly for someone standing as a candidate of a political party.
The success of any leaflet, though, is measured not through what political commentators or opponents think of it, but how the electorate receive it. So how is Dazzling Daryl doing? Well, a number of residents — including the one who provided me with a copy — have voiced their bemusement at its content and annoyance at its patronising tone, and I have heard that the Westborough Community Association are particularly unimpressed and have complained to Southend West Conservative Association.
I doubt that Dazzling Daryl will be sitting in the council chamber come next May, but I personally am looking forward to further dispatches from his own personal communist wasteland.