This is part of the letter from David Absolom, Reading Labour agent, to Alison Swaddle, Reading East Conservatives. It does not look to me as though Mr Absolom wrote it himself. One reason is that the name of the Labour candidate in Church ward is spelled wrong, and we know who does that for a living, don't we? The mis-spelling was corrected in the public statement which appeared on Tony Jones' website, probably by Tony Jones himself.
"We want to make it absolutely clear that our candidate, Eileen McElligot, SPELLING MISTAKE is Labour through and through, with strong ties to Reading, born, bred and in fact still living on a Reading Council estate, and with a real commitment both to the town and to her political principles. Poor English. You can't be committed to principles. You have them. Or not. Labour voters in Church Ward are entitled to know that their candidate is not likely to abandon her party unlike those in Redlands, who are being asked to vote for a candidate who has recently done precisely that? and that she understands the issues that matter to them. So a person who has changed parties can't understand such issues? Is this true in Redlands? This is pitiful stuff. In other words, she is 'one of us', who understands just what damage the Conservative led government is doing to hard working families – particularly this week as their cuts in tax credits hit people, while the wealthy look forward to massive tax benefits.
At no point has our literature made any reference to the Church Ward Conservative candidate's race or to where he lives. By contrast you have attacked our candidate for living in westReading. TYPO. Do concentrate, Mr Howarth.
In Redlands we are fully expecting our political opponents to draw attention to the fact that our candidate, Tony Jones, did resign from the party over his disagreement with the leadership of Gordon Brown and served out the remainder of his term as a Battle ward councillor as an independent. He has subsequently rejoined the Labour Party and we are delighted that his considerable skills and experience will once again be available to Reading Labour Party. However, we did feel it was important to emphasize in a hastily put together and rushed out statement that Tony is, once again, 'one of us'. You will note that there are no ethnic minority candidates in Redlands Ward. Oh yes there are! Tony Jones is Welsh!
There are several other wards where we have also, in different ways, drawn attention to our candidates’ local roots, which is naturally part of their appeal to the electorate.
You have however alleged a racial connotation in our literature, which is not and never has been there. I hope you will now withdraw this slur and resume a civilised and sensible campaign. Labour has never sought to make the race of any candidate an issue in the past and we are not doing so in this campaign. We are proud of our wide range of councillors and candidates and will always highlight their local links and commitment to Labour principles of equality and social justice.
I trust you will acknowledge that no other meaning was intended Oh yes it was. This is a climbdown by the boys. Say sorry and withdraw the leaflet, Reading Labour, and the matter WILL be closed in the words we used in our literature in either Church or Redlands wards and that this matter is now closed."
John Howarth of Public Impact Ltd, whose despicable racist dog-whistle piece of literature this was, you have tried to wriggle out of the consequences of what we all know you are guilty of. And you haven't succeeded.