Category Archives: The Dark Queen Of Propaganda
And this, Ladies and Gentlemen, is why it is called “Hatefest.” :) A couple of lovely chaps, one, in my view, getting himself excited over the prospect of my death and one apparently wishing he could kill me. Quite a lot of hate for somebody who they (“they” meaning other members of the Hatefest forum) refer to as “an insignificant, small, fat guy.” :)
I have met John Boldan, who used to be called John Town, and he knows where I live if he wants to “hunt me down” with his keyboard as a weapon.
And Anthony Bucknor, Son of the lovely Mrs Bucknor. Also a delightful fellow. :) :)
So. Remind me again where the name-calling and nastiness originates?
Rarely have I seen something quite as despicable as a lady’s illness being used to make political capital. But apparently that’s what we are about to see if John Elworthy’s teased “front page” is actually used where he makes the dramatic claim: “Brenda Lay Forced Off Council.” Therein, supported by some old video, he makes the claim that it is Brenda Lay’s disability that has prevented her from coming to Council meetings. This is not true.
In regards to the “ramp” shown in John Elworthy’s old video – this was not long after the Lay’s were elected to Town Council. I was one of the many Councillors who often helped Brenda Lay to get into the Council Chamber when she was first elected. Council were made aware of her difficulties and responded by having a crafted metal wheelchair ramp designed and made specifically to resolve her difficulty. For the main stairs into the listed and historic Council Chamber there is a powered Stairlift, which Brenda Lay has used successfully on the occasions that she has attended the Council. In regards to the parking outside, we have marked and coned an area for her to park. Her problems were resolved in the proper way – and it was useful to do so because this will mean that should another person with similar disabilities need access in future they will also be able to do so. Making these upgrades was right and proper and Town Council did so. After which, both the Lay’s expressed their satisfaction with the result. It was only AFTER those alterations that Brenda Lay’s health deteriorated and she became – by Alan Lay’s account – quite unwell. Her absences over the last six months have been due to her poor health and nothing to do with her disability. Indeed, many Councillors including myself have asked after her health and Alan has given updates. Alan has been forced to stay at home and look after her on several occasions for both Town & County Meetings, again – quite right and proper for him to do so.
So to recap – apparently Cllr Brenda Lay has missed six months worth of meetings. When this happens, a Councillor stops being a Councillor automatically. This is not a Council decision. It’s not something any Councillors have “decided” – it’s not up to us – it is electoral law. The only way to avoid this is to ask for a “Special Dispensation” for illness, which must be done before the deadline is reached. I doubt that any Councillor would have opposed that Special Dispensation if it had been requested, but it was not requested.
Virginia Bucknor has written to Councillors expressing her “outrage”. And yet it seems to me that this is a situation of her making. Let me explain why. Followers of local Politics will know that recently, Cllr Virginia Bucknor has been employing a new “tactic” in her political shenanigans versus other Councillors. She made a very big deal about those Councillors who did not attend the recent NHS / North Cambs Hospital Briefing – a story that she rushed to the local press as fast as she could and with her obligatory comments included. She has made remarks about Cllr Stephen Brunton, who moved out of the area and of other Councillors also. In an email this week to Councillors she demonstrated her knowledge of the attendance of colleagues again – pointing out one or two who have been quite close to the Six Month Deadline.
So my question then is, being somebody who clearly has a great interest in the attendance of others, surely she was aware of Brenda Lay’s impending deadline? Why did she not raise the issue and ask for Special Dispensation, or at least prompt Brenda’s husband, Alan, to do so? (Alan Lay is also a Town Councillor.) Virginia Bucknor, Michael Bucknor and Alan Lay were all at the exact same meeting as the rest of us. Any one of them could have prompted a Special Dispensation, but none of them did. I should add, at this point, that Alan Lay is also a County Councillor and so has good reason to understand the electoral rules regarding Special Dispensation, since he has been there while another such case came about.
Brenda Lay has not been “forced off” anything. Brenda Lay, due to her ongoing illness, has been unable to attend meetings for six months. If Brenda Lay had wanted a Special Dispensation, then that would have been simple. Alan Lay, Virginia Bucknor, Micheal Bucknor, or anybody else could have asked for one. The fact that an attendance hawk like Mrs Bucknor chose not to do so – but instead to turn the issue into a political matter – simply raises questions about the motivations of Mrs Bucknor, to my mind.
Despite my attempts to make Virginia Bucknor see reason and drop the party political nonsense in regards to the Minor Injuries Unit, she’s rejected that entirely.
So now we have her, the local Labour “Momentum” people, a disgraced ‘Kipper, the ‘Kipper who sits on the Health & Wellbeing Board (who are supposed to oversee things like this MIU business, but seems to want to blame anybody but himself) and the local “Green” activist all choosing to run the “austerity is to blame” and help the CCG avoid culpability for their poor decisions.
All evidence aside, this seems to be nothing more than a quick way to score party political points.
I tried to be reasonable and not let past grievances get in the way. I asked her several times to rethink her approach and stand together. She scoffed at, reviled, or ignored, every attempt.
If we lose the Minor Injuries Unit because of weakness and disunity, or because the CCG have been given an easy “out” to push closure, I swear I will never let anybody forget the part her group played in it – and she was the key organiser and instigator who created the leaflets which began the political nonsense.
The fight isn’t over. I guess we’ll just have to campaign separately and hope we can still win. But what a terrible shame it has come to this.
Return Of Twenty’s Plenty
The old “20 is Plenty” appears to be making a reappearance for 2016. I can only guess the delightful lady of Waterlees and her honourable and respectful husband have run out of ideas. But in a way I do feel for them. They can hardly complain about Constantine House anymore, the place they and their supporters didn’t believe would ever be repaired. Because it’s repaired.
They can’t go after Garry Tibbs and Rob McLaren about The Bell pub site and the Old Football Ground in Kirkgate given that those two have managed to get more movement on those issues in their first year as a team than the previous gentleman Councillor did in seven years.
They can’t change the name of their Ward again. Virginia Bucknor has previously said that changing the name “Waterlees” to “Waterlees Village” would “bring the community together.” You may or may not agree with that, dear reader, but the fact is they’ve already done it so they really can’t do it again. Unless they change the name to Waterlees World or something, but that sounds a little too much like a theme park.
They could add to their “Jobtrack” statistics if they wanted to, though I think that people have long since seen through the truth in those tiny tiny characters on their website.
No, they really want to make Highways their issue. They could volunteer for Speedwatch, but that would mean admitting that our new Speedwatch Committee was quite a good idea and I guess that just wouldn’t do, would it? So the old “20s Plenty” paperwork is taken from some rusty filing cabinet and the ropey statistics and weak arguments given a dust down.
As usual they attempt to claim that the opposition just said “no” for the sake of it. They do seem to enjoy playing the victim. In fact, as they well know, we debated, discussed and wrote extensively about their scheme and the opposition to it was logical and fairly considered. (Please see bottom for previous blog posts about the issue.)
But here’s where they fell down last time and where they will no doubt fall down again. At no time have any of the rest of us opposed their scheme for Waterlees. Although most people I know think it is a bonkers idea which will cost money and achieve next to nothing, it’s their ward. They are the elected Councillors. If they want to squander money on signs that everybody will ignore and the Police broadly will not enforce, that’s up to them.
But, and this can’t be said enough times, highways is a COUNTY COUNCIL function. The Bucknors need to stop trying to get money out of the Town Council for road signs and changes. They continually extol the virtues of Cllr Alan Lay and Cllr Paul Clapp, who are their friends and allies. These guys are County Councillors. All they have to do to implement their plan for Waterlees is to get their County Councillors to get them the cash and they can go right ahead. It’s very hard to see how this could be any more obvious. They and their County Council friends should just get on and do it and stop all the endless talking about it.
Hellholes & Crack Dens
When I first left home, many years ago, I spent two years living in what used to be called sharehouses. It was both affordable and convenient, allowing me to get my own space even though I was earning very little. I was able to use my time there to save up and buy my first house. Some of the other tenants became very good friends of mine and at least one of them still is to this day. I have fond memories of that first simple, affordable and comfortable room that was my first home on my own.
First time home buyers often find that to help them afford that house, they take in a lodger or two. Sometimes, one of the family loses a job and a lodger or two are the perfect way to avoid losing the home while the job hunt proceeds. Very often these would qualify as HMOs.
Recently, as part of their ongoing agenda, certain people have been trying to dirty the name of HMOs, which means House Of Multiple Occupancy. The suggestion is that all HMOs are dirty, or nasty, and that they represent some attempt to “rip people off” or to treat them in an unpleasant way.
This is completely misrepresenting the facts – something that is being done deliberately by a few individuals and which is then taken up by gullible folk. This is easy to demonstrate for anybody who is bothered about the truth, rather than the spin.
Your home is a House in Multiple Occupation (HMO) if both of the following apply:
- at least 3 tenants live there, forming more than 1 household
- you share toilet, bathroom or kitchen facilities with other tenants
There are hundreds of thousands of HMOs, by the Government definition, in the United Kingdom. If a young couple in a two bedroom house let their friend and his wife live in the spare bedroom for a while, that’s a HMO. If a landlord has a four bedroom house and rents the rooms out to individuals – what used to be called a “sharehouse” – that’s a HMO. Any University town is inundated with sharehouses / HMOs. I remember an ex-girlfriend of mine who was studying to be a Veterinary nurse, living in a HMO with other nurse trainees in her student years. This is incredibly common.
Although I don’t know for sure, I believe that quite a few of my neighbours on Alexandra Road are living in HMOs. They cause no trouble, keep their houses very nice, and are excellent neighbours. Of course there are houses out there which are not so nice to live besides, but that is also true of some houses with families in them – if the family behave in an antisocial way.
There are hundreds of variations of HMO and the vast majority are perfectly nice, perfectly comfortable places to live. Running, or living in a HMO is not illegal and I very much hope the fools who say “HMOs should be illegal” never get their way. Because then we really WILL have a housing crisis in the UK. A crisis when huge numbers of people suddenly lose their homes, and when thousands of others can’t afford theirs because they can’t rent the rooms anymore.
You see, there is a very big difference between a house with three couples in three double rooms, where the premises is clean, the regulations all kept to and the landlord reliable and fair – and a monstrous den with no carpet or curtains where people are sleeping on dirty mattresses on the floor, abused, and trapped by their circumstances. They are like chalk and cheese.
The individuals who seek to muddy the name of a HMO act as though all HMOs are like crack dens. They are not. The very very vast majority of HMOs are just places people share a house but don’t happen to all be family. It is very dangerous and ignorant to spread this cack about them as though they are a plague, when in fact they are a vital part of our housing infrastructure which has existed for hundreds of years and will continue to exist for hundreds more – perfectly legally.
A few years ago, the law was changed to require *some* HMOs to apply for planning permission when they started out. The purpose of the change was that some University towns were being overrun by large, packed HMOs full of students. The laws on when you do or do not qualify as a HMO or a Large HMO, when you do or don’t need a license and when you do or don’t need planning permission are complex. Because the purpose is to require registation, payment and regulation, rather than prevention, Councils try to work with landlords rather than against them. And different Councils do take different views, just to add to the complexity. Unless a place really is a hellhole, like one of these aforementioned crack den types, they will usually prefer a constructive dialogue that corrects whatever minor omission they may notice.
HMOs are just homes that a few people share. Large HMOs are just bigger homes that a few people share. Not everybody can afford to buy a house or even rent a house and not everybody can get into a Council House or Housing Association Home. Sometimes, it suits people to share. Often, in fact. It takes a special sort of snobbery to automatically presume there is something wrong with that. save your outrage for the hellholes and the crack dens – the places that actually deserve it. Unless it’s not actually snobbery at all. Perhaps what you really dislike is the fact that foreign people live in some of these places? If, in truth, that is your reason – there’s a word for that too.
If you are one of those people who finds political tit-for-tat “childish” or “annoying” please don’t read any further. The trouble, as ever, is that if I do not respond to the spin, falsehoods, deception and outright lies then they go unchallenged and people believe them. Sure, people believe them anyway, particularly when they have the backing of the local newspaper. I can’t fix all of this, I can only do my bit to tell the actual truth as best I know it.
Recently, in the aftermath of their pretty hefty defeat in a local by-election, the Usual Suspects (opposition, and generic haters of all sorts) have been in a real froth looking for something to hang their hat on. As usual, I am a popular target. The local Editor of the
Bucknor Standard Wisbech Standard (sorry, easy mistake to make) is fully on-side with the attacks. Lead attacker is, as is often the case, political activist David Prestidge, who has written a whole blog post about how terrible the by-election was and who he blames. I’m going to analyse it piece by piece to show why its spin, deception, lies, or just plain wrong.
This article will be, by necessity, long. Many will not read it, and that’s fine. I will provide a summary at the end. It wont change the minds of anybody who has already made up their minds, because those people hate who they hate and that wont change. Nor, I expect, will it change the mind of any journalist who thinks that personal animosity matters more than actual facts. Which sadly, seems to be quite a few of them. But we live in hope.
Dave Prestidge’s blog can be found here: http://wisbechcommunityforum.blogspot.gr/
I’m sorry, but I can’t put a link to the specific post, since his blog doesn’t seem to be organised that way. So if you read this in a few months time, the link will probably go to some other post he has written. But i’ll quote the specific parts in full as we go for clarity.
TRULY, WISBECH IS A PIECE OF WORK. I am approaching the biblical allowance of threescore and ten. I have lived and worked all over Britain, and in France and Australia too. I don’t think I have ever been in a community where political malice and ill-will to all men has been so prevalent. We have just been through an excruciatingly bitter by-election. For the Town Council. Yes, that’s it – the Town Council. Last time I looked, Wisbech Town Council were responsible for some of the things that go on in the Market Place, public toilets, and ……well, that’s about it, really. Maybe I have forgotten allotments, or some other major issue. I will stand to be corrected if that is the case.
David Prestidge (henceforth DP for brevity) is entitled to his opinion. But if he thinks the by-election we just had was “excruciatingly bitter” and that nowhere he has ever been can compete then he must have led a very sheltered life. In fact, although it did get a bit nasty at times, it was pretty tame compared to very many places. There are local politicians around the UK who would look at that claim and laugh their pants off. But for the moment, let’s take his exaggeration at face value and presume its true.
BACK IN MAY Wisbech, like many other areas in the country, held local elections, for Town and District councils. Two Eastern European residents stood for election. Ms Irina Kumalane stood for Staithe Ward and was elected. Mr Aigars Balsevics also stood in a different ward, but was not elected. Shortly after assuming her duties as Town Councillor, Ms Kumalane resigned. Her reasons for resigning are not known, at least officially and publicly. So, a by election was called for Staithe Ward. The three candidates were Mr Balsevics (Con), Mrs Caroline Smith (UKIP), and Mr Reg Mee (Lab).
NOW BEAR IN MIND both Mr Balsevics and Mr Mee had both offered themselves as candidates in the May election. Both had failed. A Conservative party flyer soon condemned the Labour Party as “arrogant”, because the electorate had said “NO!” to Mr Mee in May. The electorate had also said “NO!” to Mr Balsevics in May, but that was not mentioned.
Why this is incorrect / spin: DP is angry that the Conservatives pointed out that Reg did recently lose the election for the Ward that he had been the Councillor for during the last four years. He contends that this was “the same” as the fact that Aigars recently lost an election too. What he conveniently forgets and which is pertinent is that only Reg Mee lost an election with THIS electorate. Aigars stood in Waterlees Ward, Reg Mee stood in Staithe Ward. It is therefore perfectly accurate to say that for this by-election, in Staithe Ward, Reg Mee was recently rejected by the electorate by Aigars Balsevics was not. I’m sorry if they don’t like it, but it is absolutely true. I understand that one or two of them are unhappy because they say that you vote “for” somebody, you don’t “reject” somebody. I put it to them that it is pretty standard parlance in political discussion to say that the loser was “rejected” by the electorate. Many of them said the same about me, in years gone by, if I recall. :) What goes around comes around, I guess.
DP also suggests that it was the Conservatives who began the “negative campaigning.” Not true. For those who don’t know, positive campaigning is where you stick to what you are going to do and how you are going to make a difference. Negative campaigning is where you bash others as part of your literature. Both have their uses but broadly we local Conservatives steer clear of negative campaigning at the outset and only ever use it sparingly, in response to something else. Our first leaflet was a positive leaflet and made no mention of Reg Mee or Labour. Then Labour brought out a leaflet with a whole side of damning claims (most of which I would suggest were wrong, though we’d obviously debate that.) In response, we took off the gloves and ran a very small (by comparison to theirs) piece about UKIP and Labour which stuck to the facts.
I personally think its a bad idea to select the same candidate to fight an election for the same area they just lost – from a campaign point of view. If you do so, the opposition will invariably point out the fact. It’s the same with selecting a candidate who lives outside the ward boundaries. There are perfectly good arguments for why a good candidate from outside is better than a bad candidate from inside, but whether you like it or not people do like candidates to live in the area they will represent and if yours doesn’t, it will be used against you. This happens up and down the country. Though this latter was not the case this time since ALL the candidates lived outside the ward.
THEN CAME another Conservative party flyer extolling the virtues of Mr Balsevics, and making several claims. The first was that Wisbech Town Council has been instrumental in the restoration of the fire-damaged Constantine House. In fact, WTC has absolutely no part to play in the restoration of damaged buildings in the town. That responsibility lies with Fenland District Council. Perhaps the claim meant that the WTC councillors who were also FDC councillors had been fighting tooth and nail to get the building restored? With the exception of Mr and Mrs Bucknor, no WTC councillor had shewn the least interest in the Constantine House saga. In fact, one or two of those people had gone out of their way to mock the efforts of local people who were fed up with the derelict building. Suffice to say, the building is not yet fully restored and, despite an apparent deadline being imposed by FDC, the building remains open to the elements – and flying rats.
Why this is incorrect/spin: Wisbech Town Council are a town/parish level Council and so their powers are limited, but one of their key roles is as a consultee to other Councils. In regards to Constantine House and the wider restoration goals around Wisbech, Wisbech Town Council have had the issue on their agenda many times and have been supportive. In fact, in regards to the lottery bid, a large sum of money was given from Wisbech Town Council. DP names Mr and Mrs Bucknor because they are his friends who he always supports, but it simply is not true that they are the only ones who have “shown an interest” in Constantine House. Indeed, I cannot think of a single Councillor of any party on Town Council who haven’t pushed and pressed for it to be done. Trusting that the Council Officers are doing the right thing is not the same as “not showing an interest” and I would argue that the sort of sabre rattling and petitioning that the Bucknors are well-known for and which give them so many great photo opportunities aren’t actually helpful at all. Just noisy. But that is neither here nor there. The key point is that the Labour Party also included Constantine House on their leaflets and talked about how Reg would make a big difference. Now I like Reg Mee, but he was a Town Councillor for four years and I do not recall him ever speaking at a full council meeting about Constantine House. He certainly has not been Last Action Hero on the subject. And I notice that David Prestidge goes to great lengths to say that Constantine House is an FDC issue and not WTC, while failing to make that point about the pledges Reg Mee was making. Exactly the same sort of partial omission that he accuses others of.
NEXT ON THE LIST OF CLAIMS was the boast that Mr Balsevics was a responsible and public-minded landlord – of his three pubs. When someone pointed out that he had earlier lost his late licence at one of the pubs for serving drunks and inciting violence, this was seen as a gross slur on Mr B’s probity.
Why this is incorrect/spin: Because it’s a lie. Aigars Balsevics has not “lost a license.” He had the terms of his license adjusted many years ago and this was NOT “for serving drinks and inciting violence.” In fact, checking the minutes of the licensing meeting where the issue was considered the Police went out of their way to say they did NOT hold Aigars Balsevics responsible. I suspect that Prestidge (and UKIP) got this from an old Cambs Times article, which was also incorrect.
ANOTHER CLAIM was that Mr Balsevics was a member of Wisbech Rainbow Savers – part of the Credit Union movement – and a photo of him at the inception of this group was included in the election flyer. Now, for reasons that no-one seems clear of, it transpires that Mr B is not an active member of Wisbech Rainbow Savers.
Why this is incorrect/spin: Because it’s incorrect in what it says. Aigars Balsevics was an early volunteer with the Credit Union scheme and gave up many hours volunteering at the Oasis Centre. Now where they are sneaky is that they must know all this, so the final sentence “Mr B is not an active member of Wisbech Rainbow Savers” is clearly aimed to suggest something. Except that they have even made a mistake here. He IS still a member of Wisbech Rainbow Savers. He may not volunteer the hours to sign up new accounts etc anymore, but he is still a Member of the scheme.
THERE HAS BEEN A PHOTOGRAPH doing the rounds on social media. It shows a Transit-style van, parked with its wheels obstructing the pavement, on double yellow lines, a few metres short of The Angel pub – landlord Mr Aigars Balsevics. The van has Latvian plates. Clearly visible in the back windows are election posters exhorting us to vote for Aigars Balsevics and Brenda Barber. Both Conservative candidates in the May 2015 local elections.
Why this is incorrect/spin: For a load of reasons. Because it’s not illegal to park a van on double yellow lines for loading an unloading. Because the van doesn’t belong to Aigars Balsevics and so he is not responsible for it. And because this is the same picture that they tried to use back in May, which reappeared with the tacit suggestion that it was a new picture in August. And most of the people who have tried to pretend this is Aigar’s vehicle know full well it is not, but keep on trying to smear his name anyway. There is a name for these sort of people. You know what it is.
At this point DP turns his attack on me. No surprise there, it’s his usual tactic. He says:
NOW, because the van is not UK registered, no-one can find out who is the owner of the vehicle. Or who drives it. All that can be inferred from the photograph is that the owner is a Conservative supporter who us, in some way, connected to The Angel inn. There was a certain amount of discussion over this photograph on social media, but no-one expected this bizarre response.
SO, a fair number of Wisbech townsfolk were condemned as “scumbags”. By a town and district councillor. The crime? Commenting on a photograph on social media, and drawing a conclusion which didn’t fit the prevailing orthodoxy.
Why this is incorrect/spin: I really enjoyed his “there was a certain amount of discussion.” On his nasty little forum Aigars was accused of all sorts of things, including (repeatedly) illegal parking. In a vehicle he DOES NOT OWN. He was attacked by the same little group of people including political activists for both the opposition parties during an election campaign. But apparently accusing an man of all manner of crimes he didn’t commit is fine, but my Facebook post is pure evil? This is a position that was agreed by Wisbech Standard Editor John Elworthy, who also felt that my post above was some kind of dark act. Well let’s look at that.
The post was published on my personal Facebook feed, not on any forum. It featured my step by step guide on “how to spot a scumbag.” It named NOBODY. And it goes to some lengths to be quite specific about who I am calling a scumbag. To whit: somebody who publishes a photo they know full well does not belong to an individual but who tries to suggest it does belong to that individual during an election campaign to try and dirty their name.
DP goes on to say that I have called a “fair number of Wisbech townsfolk” scumbags. This is a strange comment. If he believes this is true then he must self-identify with the points I made. He must accept that he knows full well that the van does not belong to Aigars Balsevics and that he has deliberately suggested it did for political gain during an election campaign. It’s not me saying this, it is him, if he is suggesting that I have called him a “scumbag.” The definition of a scumbag could not have been clearer, could it?
Worse still, he then goes on to identify “a fair number of Wisbech townsfolk” in the same way. On his “Wisbech Political Scene” forum he suggested they were all called Scumbags (and he even performed a song about it.) Again, since I named nobody and simply specified the criteria for a scumbag, I can only assume he is admitting to all the points I made on behalf of himself and many others? Well, that’s him saying that, not me. Though I don’t expect to see the Wisbech Standard feature a headline “UKIP and Independent Activist admits to lying about candidate for political advantage” any time soon, even though that would appear to be where his blog declaration leads.
WELL, THE ACTUAL ELECTION happened, but not before one of the High Priest’s acoylites burst onto Facebook announcing that the latest UKIP flyer was “vile” and that it had been reported to the police and the Electoral Commission. At the time of writing, no-one associated with that leaflet has been either arrested or sent to The Tower for sedition.
Notice the use of terms like “high priest” and “acolyte.” This from the guy who claims everybody is nasty and spiteful. This is the normal run of things. The people who perpetrate try to accuse others of their tactics. It is a form of deflection. Nevertheless, the UKIP leaflet broke Electoral Law in a number of key ways. His laughing and joking about “The Tower” avoids the fact that breaching the Representation of the Peoples Act is an offence for a reason and the usual run of things is that Police will look into the issue after the electoral dust has settled. I hope action is taken, as I BELIEVE the law has been broken and these guys need to learn that there are lines you can’t cross. Lying about a candidate to damage their reputation and reduce their votes is one of them. Luckily, the people of Staithe saw through it and elected him anyway. But that doesn’t make it any less reprehensible.
THE ELECTION ITSELF? Well Mr Balsevics was duly elected, with more votes than his two opponents put together. I have no beef with him, and have never met him, but he sounds a pretty decent sort of bloke, but someone who clearly allows his election literature to be written by someone else.
I don’t speak for other parties, but Conservative candidates in our area are always part of the team designing their leaflets and they always approve the final copy even if somebody lays it out. But leaflets tend to be written by the candidate and some helpers, then designed by somebody with design skills who lays the information out, then approved by the candidate, Campaign Manager, and Election Agent.
AS A DISPIRITING FOOTNOTE to a sorry couple of weeks, the Great High Priest still had another shot in his magazine. Clearly recognising that the Labour party campaign did not meet with his approval, he issued this statement. Bear in mind that the young man who had worked his socks off for the Labour campaign is a mere 17 years old, and has not had time to plumb the grisly depths of Wisbech politics, this was sent in his direction.
DP’s view of my “motives” ( name-calling aside) are incorrect. I did think and still do think that the local Labour party had a choice to take and took the wrong one. By which I mean they could have steered clear of the Bucknor/Prestidge/Patrick gloomfest and done their own thing. Reg Mee has never been like that and I would be very surprised if he was happy with the things said in his literature, or the things said by his supporters and activists.
Notice DP also suggests I “sent this in his direction” (meaning the Labour Party campaign manager.) More spin. In fact, I wrote it on my personal Facebook feed. The fact somebody chose to forward it to him in one way or another was not my doing. I didn’t “send it in his direction” at all. Though I have no problem with him reading it. He clearly chose not to listen to my advice, which is his prerogative.
DP focuses on one sentence in my piece, the one that says “get a better Campaign Manager” and ignores all the rest. Now James Lowery – who was apparently their Campaign Manager – seems a bright guy. I’m not sure what him being seventeen has to do with it. I have no doubt there are excellent seventeen year old Campaign Managers, and terrible ones. I’m sure he did work his socks off. But my opinion, and I am entitled to an opinion, is that he ran a poor campaign which lost them votes. Remember, Reg Mee WAS the Councillor for this ward up until three months ago and had been for four years. This was a Labour Ward, previously. I don’t think this is his fault, per se. He simply doesn’t have the experience to run a full campaign. Normally, you would put a keen newcomer into a support role under a more experienced person until they learnt all the skills. Labour chose not to do so. Up to them, I guess. But to suggest that this one line in a paragraph was some awful attack is incorrect.
David Prestidge finishes up with this lovely conclusion:
UNBELIEVABLE. Beyond parody. Arrogant. So totally and unredeemably unaware that you have to doubt the man’s mental state. Hubris, patronising, smug, vain…? Words don’t usually fail me – they are my stock in trade – but on this occasion I will shrink into the corner and hope that someone out there can summon up the verbal energy to add words to this…
Unbelievable? Beyond Parody? Why? Because I expressed a pretty simple view in the form of advice for Labour? “So totally and unredeemably unaware that you have to doubt the man’s mental state?” Really? Then he “hopes somebody out there can summon up the verbal energy to add words to this…” Well of course he does. Because that is his intention. The whole piece is just another attack, like all his attacks, aimed at encouraging his little band to continue their abuse.
DP and his fellow travellers will often tell you Conservatives, particularly me, are so mean to them and their mates. When you follow their tracks back and check you will invariably see that either (a) what was said is not what they say was said or (b) what was said is a response to something worse they have said. It’s a clever game they play, but broadly it doesn’t work, because most people aren’t stupid enough to fall for it. Sadly, the local newspaper is always right there with them and this gives their lies, spin and deception a credibility it does not deserve.
This year alone I have been sent several hate letters and a death threat. I have been accused of being a criminal, of being corrupt, of being lazy, of being a liar. I have been called a c*nt, a *fuc*ing wa*ker and an as*hole. My wife has also been criticised, even though she has nothing to do with local politics at all. Just this week I have (falsely) been accused of illegal parking by somebody who appears to spend half their time filming me and my property. DP and his merry band have a Facebook Forum where more than half the content seems to be attacks on me in one form or another … they appear to be obsessed. I have had the things I say misrepresented, spun, cherry picked and taken out of context. I have been called a “bully”, “mentally ill” (several times), compared to serial killers and to mass murderers and to evil dictators. I am accused of having some sort of “dominance” on Facebook,despite that fact that there are dozens of them and (most of the time) only one of me. It is an ongoing coordinated campaign and has been for some time. It has begun to affect my wider family because their tactic – tell enough lies and people will start to believe some of them – is effective. But John Elworthy and the Wisbech Standard don’t give a stuff about any of that.
Meanwhile, it’s absolutely fine to accuse Aigars Balsevics of crimes he is nothing to do with, to attack his reputation (falsely) and to suggest that he is using violence of aggression to make people vote? And that’s without even touching on the lies that have been spread quietly from May onwards about Aigars, of which I have had residents phone me up and tell me what was said. These people are despicable, relentless and just plain bad. But the local press are with them one hundred percent anyway.
Frankly, I am not going anywhere. You can tell lies about me, make nasty cartoons of me, call me whatever you like, get your mates in the press to run nasty headlines about me. But I’ll still be right here, doing what I can for the Town and the People in it. And yes, for my political party too, where appropriate. And in time, one by one, all your lies will be exposed.
“Long is the way and hard, that out of Hell leads up to light.”
? John Milton,
Here They Go Again
I’ve done my best. I’ve laid off UKIP and the Bucknors since the elections. I’ve tried to give Alan Lay a fair crack of the whip as a newly-elected Town Councillor, even proposing him as Vice Chair of the Working Party for the new Town Plan. But, as with every other time I’ve tried to get a “new start” in relation to our local “opposition” i’m afraid they’ve just left me no choice but to respond.
The Bucknors, clearly refreshed and ready to get the old media wagon rolling again, pop up on Facebook to tell everybody that they’ve heard a “rumour” that the hospital might be closing, or some bits of it might be closing, or something. They are “very alarmed” about it and will “challenge it.” Then their UKIP pals, Alan Lay and Paul Clapp, “arrange a meeting” the same day to “get to the bottom of it.” The bottom of it turns out to be that there is no threat of it closing, its just a re-tender for some services. They explain this away by saying “some people had been scaremongering on Facebook” (uh, yes, and who was that doing the scaremongering, hmmm?) but that luckily this last-minute intervention by the ‘Kippers had resolved it all. If, by “resolved”, you mean: “simply clarified that it was not true.” Do you feel lucky, dear reader? I do. Ever so.
So, in the space of a couple of days there is a rumour announced, spread, “investigated” and then finally debunked. Which gets them the front page of the local newspaper, where they ominously warn: “We’re watching you.” To which I would ask that classic old question: “Who watches the watchmen?”
Meanwhile, Alan Lay also snatches a full page of the local newspaper, where he asks: “nepotism and politics, are they related?” I have read some poor, ill-informed, badly-argued and just plain unpleasant articles in my time, but Alan should get a special award for this one. I won’t reprint the whole load of old pap that he spews into print, I’ll just isolate his key “arguments” such as they are.
Wisbech Town Council is apparently “corrupt” because:-
- Alan Lay wasn’t made Chairman of Planning and Chairman of Allotments committee a couple of weeks after being elected.
- Alan Lay thinks he is better placed to judge competitions than others.
- Alan Lay doesn’t seem to appreciate the fact that Cllr David Oliver and Cllr Jessica Oliver are father and daughter. But the fact that the opposition are two husband-and-wife couples? That’s absolutely fine, of course. Do what I do, not what I say, huh?
- Alan Lay refers to: “the grandiose self-indulgence of these egotistical councillors who “know better” with an apparent complete lack of self-awareness that proclaiming all these things he believes he is entitled to are the sort of “grandiose self-self indulgence” and “ego” that he is referring to.
- Alan Lay doesn’t seem to understand what the role of Chairman is, yet wants to be made Chairman anyway.
- As we have seen in previous disputes with Alan Lay, he quotes “laws” which don’t exist and shows a complete misunderstanding of the process and system he claims to be expert in.
- Much like his friend Virginia Bucknor, Alan Lay does not seem to understand what the word “democratic” means, but simply throws it around in the hope of sounding more sincere.
- Alan Lay thinks that Cllr Jessica Oliver should not be Chairman because … well, I’m not quite sure. Because she is younger than him? Because she is female? Because she should stand aside for his “clearly superior” expertise? What an unpleasant, bigoted man, this makes him sound like.
- “This WTC is corrupt through ignorance, ineptitude or avoidance of their duties,” says Alan Lay. What he seems to mean is that its “corrupt” because it did not give him everything he wanted, ten minutes after he was elected. Rightly so, I’d say. The sort of person who makes comments like this has no business being Chairman of anything.
Jobs you want doing? Who ya gonna call?
I had to chuckle at the Bucknors attacking local Conservatives, and particularly Rob McLaren, for doing voluntary work in the community. They tried to make it look like he was going it “for the election” – while apparently missing the fact that he (and the rest of us) are involved in social action projects and volunteering all the time. Naturally, John Elworthy was out in support of them as ever. No longer making even the slightest effort to appear unbiased, it seems. So be it.
I think Bucknor made a mistake attacking Rob. She and Michael Bucknor can attack me all they like – I’m a Human Shield. :) But Rob is far more well-liked, probably because he’s a much better man than I am. I suspect they may have bitten off more than they can chew. I did have some advice for Rob, though. In case he finds it helpful.
You know what you *should* have done, Rob? Held a consultation that nobody turned up to because you didn’t advertise it, then blamed your residents for your own failings. Made a webpage listing all the “jobs” you’ve done which mostly features just a few phone calls. Driven your car without proper insurance cover. Benefits fraud. Used your elected role to promote your private business. Claimed to have received “hundreds of calls” while on holiday on the other side of the world. Claimed that local schools didn’t have chairs. Run a petition and proposed a crossing only to completely fail to put a bid in for it. Run a petition to stop the Post Office moving, only to completely fail. Repeatedly reported your enemies to the Standards Board in the hope you would stop them pointing out the things you do. Failed to turn up for pretty much every civic event since the day you were elected. Swore blind that you were going to prevent the taxi rank from moving, then completely fail to do so. Publish your plans for a speed reduction, then go into hiding when it becomes apparent the public don’t support you. Claim that things were going to get closed down which were not going to get closed down, in order to then pretend you had prevented them from closing down. Started an Infrastructure campaign with a website and fifty scrappy flyers and then spend years pretending it was more than a website and fifty scrappy flyers. Oppose and support the Wisbech Rail Project simultaneously. Vote for a rise in Council Tax even though you claim to be from a very deprived ward. Try and stop the Wisbech Adventure Playground from opening, then become Chairman of it and find that nobody wants to serve on the Committee with you. Try and get on the board of the Oasis Centre and be furious that they wont let you on there because they know what you are like. Call UKIP members “bigoted and racist” and then do a sleazy deal with them to protect yourself. Start a political “group” with only two people, which just happens to come with a generous group leaders Special Responsibility Allowance. Call Children in Care “Takers From Society” after they have given you a heartfelt presentation. Propose paid parking for all of Wisbech’s free car parks. Spend every day of your life claiming everybody in the opposition party is “nasty” to you when you are, in fact, the nastiest political individual the Town has ever seen. That’s what you *should* have done, Rob. But you wouldn’t. Because you’re not like that.
But I would like to thank Virginia Bucknor who said: “Wisbech Tories helping us sweep our streets and now painting a garage. If there’s any odd jobs you want doing, who ya gonna call?” (or something very similar) – beautiful quote and headline for next election leaflet, and WHAT an endorsement!
Finally In The Open
Good to see John Elworthy on Facebook leaping to the defence of the Independents and UKIP. People shouldn’t feel forced to hide their political views and pretend to be neutral and unbiased, even if they are the Editor of a newspaper.
There’s no reason why he shouldn’t hold political views and there’s no reason why his newspaper shouldn’t campaign for a particular group of political people and against another group. It’s just nice if it’s in the open and transparent so that people aren’t fooled into thinking there’s proper news there, rather than personal comment. That way, people can choose to read his paper or just bin it, and they can choose whether to advertise in it or in its less political rival – the Fenland Citizen.
Refreshing to finally see it so openly displayed. Several people have messaged me to say how “gobsmacked” they were by it. I wasn’t gobsmacked. I’ve been pointing it out for years. Every day, more people see it, or admit it.
The truth is out there.