Well, the Labour Party has apparently been stung into action by the early Lib Dem running in this by-election. So for our delight, we have this document (with thanks to blog reader ED again for sending it to penartharbyd[a]gmail.com).
And given that this is a Local Labour Voice ‘by-election special’, it got me thinking – have I ever seen a copy of Local Labour Voice before? If not, then this by-election is special!
Stephen Doughty – who it’s already been announced here will be our new MP – is apparently playing a leading role in fighting for fairer taxes and against the UK government’s cuts. If that’s the case, he’s displaying a remarkable degree of impotence. Because as I see it, despite all Stephen’s hard work and campaigning, the cuts and taxation brackets are just the same. I’d be delighted to see Stephen’s strategy in “doing all [he] can to fight the vicious cuts”, because it sounds suspiciously like he hasn’t got one. And flailing around trying to grab a few headlines here and there are hardly going to persuade the UK government to abandon their austerity drive.
On the next page we have a picture of Penarth Labour Councillors proudly displaying a banner. Except… wait a minute! There are a few ringers in there. One of them’s Stephen himself, who at present is either employed by Oxfam or is unemployed, awaiting his anointment. He is in any case unelected. Another is an unelected former AM, we’ve got one of our present AMs and then our MP. Let’s not try to mislead the electorate in our enthusiasm, eh, Stephen?
And Stephen says that campaigning “gets results for local people”. Perhaps I should refer him back to his prodigious success as the leading light in achieving fairer taxation. But although this is the purview of the local authority, I do think there’s a role for an MP to work to improve local facilities through working with councillors, in addition to Westminster work. I just hope Stephen displays more commitment to local communities than his predecessor, who’s been in this game so long he’s more familiar with Millbank than Pill Street.
It’s more than a bit hypocritical for Stephen to describe the harsh and cruel Tory/Lib Dem government’s shady plans to introduce regional pay. After all, which political party’s brainchild was regional pay in the first place? You guessed it! Labour pushing hard for less pay for Welsh workers.
We get a delightful page 3 picture – but who’s the un-named man with Stephen? He appears to have borrowed one of Stephen’s suits from when he had yet to reach his towering stature, and a shirt and tie to boot. It’s nice to see philanthropy in action, caring for the older generation with barely a penny to their name and donating clothing to them. Well done Stephen!
Stephen bemoans the stripping of ‘vital powers’ ascribed by ASBOs. But the latest statistical analysis tells us that by 2010, 57% of all ASBOs had been breached at least once, with an average in these cases of 4.5 breaches. And South Wales Police issued a whopping 36 ASBOs in 2010. Well that system worked just great, didn’t it! But it’s just as well Stephen’s in tune with a certain Ed Balls, who described ASBOs as a ‘failure‘, and said “I want to live in a society that puts ASBOs behind us”. Could Stephen’s fondness for ASBOs have anything to do with a certain father figure having been responsible for this failed policy?
Stephen’s going to have to get used to being branded hypocritical. Because in relation to police numbers, if we look north to Scotland, police numbers are actually rising. But then police and criminal justice is devolved to Scotland (and Northern Ireland), so they’re much better equipped to withstand the ‘vicious cuts’ that Stephen is so concerned about. Perhaps he’d be better off asking Peter Hain why he thought policing would be better off financed by London than Wales than bleating about 750 officers being lost as a result of Labour’s failure to devolve when they had the chance.
And I’m sure more than a few bobbies on the beat could be paid for out of a Police Commissioner’s fat salary. But then, we’re hardly likely to see Stephen complain about that with his best friend having a major interest in ensuring that salary remains as high as possible.
I’m with Stephen that privatisation of the police forces a la Lincolnshire – policing for profit – is a bad idea. But the only cast-iron way of ensuring it doesn’t happen in Wales? Devolve policing and criminal justice – something, incidentally, that’s supported by a substantial majority of the Welsh public.
I should also mention the Labour Party’s stalwart consideration of the Welsh language. Like the Liberal Democrats before them, for Welsh Labour the Welsh language is a complete irrelevance. Which is slightly peculiar given that in Leighton Andrews they have one of the most pro-Welsh language Ministers we’ve ever had in Cardiff Bay. From Welsh language hero to zero in 9 yards, that’s Labour for you.
Stephen says he wants to hear from us. I wonder just how happy he’ll be to get this feedback.
Incidentally, I’d appreciate all Penarth and Cardiff South candidates sending me pdf versions of their electoral material. It avoids the poorer quality scans such as today’s version (I’m still grateful to you, ED!). And I’ve just had an idea that might up the stakes a bit. To be continued…
This post has been updated to make reference to the zero-tolerance approach Stephen Doughty has to the Welsh language.