Well I like a good laugh as much as anyone. So I was delighted that subscriber to my blog TW was able to email me a copy of the latest St. Augustine’s pre-election ‘information’. I say pre-election because although our elected (and candidate) politicians claim to be working hard for their constituents ‘not just at election time’, funnily enough we seem to get a few more in the 6 months before an election.
And over the coming months I hope to contribute in some small way to an improvement in the standard of election material through dissecting what our hopefuls have to offer in glorious technicolour.
TW expressed disappointment that no-one was willing to perform this service until now, because the recent Plaid Cymru leaflet (now recycled) from the same ward would have provided ample material of interest. Suffice to say that it could have caused a few coronaries had it arrived on 31 October because of the photo of Frankenstein and the ghoul on the front cover (candidates, apparently, in May 2012). A tip for you at Plaid: if your candidates have a face best suited for radio then use a wider ‘background’ shot. If anyone can rustle up a copy of the leafletI’d be delighted to analyse its qualities (penartharbyd[a]gmail.com)
So back to the task in hand.
Ding ding! It’s round one in the local elections, and for the Conservative Party we have two incumbents, in the blue corner Cllr Paul Church, and also in the blue corner, Cllr Sophie Williams. And boy are they up for a fight! They tell us “they certainly did fight”, after having “promised you they would fight”. Sounds like they’re spending plenty of time down at Cogan leisure centre – although we’re not quite certain who they’re fighting. Usually you need someone to fight against, and if I’m not mistaken it’s their own Conservative colleagues who run the show at the Vale. They’ll be very popular down at Rhoose for their pugilistic behaviour I’m sure.
The layout of the pamphlet (ConservativesStAugustines), to my mind, isn’t too bad for an obviously amateurish attempt, although it could be spruced up by using some graphic design software. All political parties take note: Scribus is a graphic design package that’s free of charge and can help you wow your constituents with relatively little work.
The headline issue of ‘In Touch’ is ‘Help us make our roads safe’. But this article is really confusing. We’re told that the local authority has taken steps to tackle the most ‘damaged’ roads in the Vale… and now Cllrs Church and Williams are calling for, erm, “community effort to keep the roads safe”. What form should this effort take? It’s totally unclear to me. And since Cllr Church is crying out that “more funding is desperately needed”, perhaps he should take that issue up with those tight-fisted Scrooges at the council. His Conservative colleagues, that is. Cllr Williams, meanwhile, is calling for us all to “work together as a community to help us turn [Penarth’s chaotic streets] around”. I know Penarth reasonably well and I have to say that chaos seems like an unusual adjective. How should we turn the streets around? It’s so mysterious! To finish the article, we have a picture of Cllr Church, I presume, squatting in the gutter attempting some sort of hip-hop pivot. I suppose it must appeal to the younger voter.
There’s another picture on the front page that looks like it’s been squeezed in a similar manner that Cllr Church and his double yellow lines have been squashed. Another tip: fit your text around your images, not the other way around!
I’m also not convinced that if you have a “problem parking” you should call the police. To my mind there are more serious issues for the local constabulary to be dealing with. And why, of all the issues that a local authority deals with (including planning, waste management, leisure centres, social services, libraries, education etc.) has it been decided that the issues we need to contact people about are problem parking and potholes? Has the level of debate in Penarth really sunk this low?
I’m sure this isn’t an issue that is confined to the Conservative leaflets, but I don’t think that blind assertions come across very well. For example, apparently “the two Conservative representatives are well known and respected…” Says who? You don’t assert respect, you earn it – saying it in a leaflet doesn’t make it so. Another section, another assertion: “more residents in St Augustine’s recycling their waste than ever before”. To my knowledge there is no formal record of recycling participation at a ward-by-ward level.
Turning over the page we have two more short stories. Personally, I’d like to see a bit more substance in the story. Cllrs Church and Williams are “backing calls for urgent action” on Penarth Heights, but they don’t let on whose responsibility this action is. Surely it couldn’t be the Conservative administration in the Vale? We’re left, tantalisingly, in the dark. Perhaps all will be revealed next time.
Layout 3/10, Content 2/10
PS Although the scanned version doesn’t permit a great analysis of the quality of the photos, TW assures me that the stock picture of Cllr Church is heavily pixelated. Perhaps in reality Cllr Church is ‘half man, half machine’…