Monday, 9 April 2012

Oranjepan is full of it

Berkshire blogger Oranjepan has this to say, and (sigh) I am obliged to do a little light rebuttal

Reading Borough Council's local election campaign exploded into controversy this week as accusations and counter-accusations exposed the political divisions between the parties.

Following the deselection of sitting Conservative councillor, Jamie Chaudhary, over an internal 'vendetta', the Peppard ward representative announced his party resignation during the full public session of the Council amidst cheering by Greens and Labour that he would take legal action against the party. 

Cllr Chaudhary declared he is to stand as an independent candidate against his former colleagues with the backing of local members and officers.

Former Labour representative Jane Griffiths, who had a similar experience when she controversially became the fist typo! sitting MP to be deselected no, just the first Labour MP in about ten years, there were quite a number of others to follow, and mine had been preceded by a Tory in Surrey Heath rejects claims that the decision was for 'health' reasons, and provides the insight that public splits of this sort are rarely conducive to successful election campaigns.  I said nothing of the sort.  Wrong.

LibDem Gareth Epps pays tribute to his opposite number, describing Cllr Chaudhary as "one of the most able and hardest-working" members of the tory group, adding his view that these events have been part of a 'murky process'.

Meanwhile Labour was forced onto the backfoot when an election leaflet used phrases described as a 'dog-whistle' to racists.

Battle ward's Cllr Sarah Hacker attempted to defend the combination of two divisive phrases by examining them separately, as threats of legal action were made by electoral agent David Absolom if tories didn't withdraw their 'smears'.  I have commented on Sarah Hacker's post.  Moderation is on, so I hope she lets it through.  If she does not I will post my comment independently.  My main point is that the issue was first raised in the public sphere by me.

She is supported by Green Party stalwart (and Battle ward resident) Adrian Windisch who similarly prefers to interpret each phrase in isolation.

Labour councillor Tony Jones rejects outright any accusation of racism towards Azam Janjua, explaining that the underlying attack is because the Conservative candidate for Church ward is a 'political turncoat' who defected from Labour amidst allegations of misconduct. A bit rich, coming from someone who publicly defected from the party he had represented for decades - And then went back.  Turncoatism writ large methinks.

Other commentators have been scathing in their criticism.

Jane Griffiths was a victim of Labour's internal party factionalism no I wasn't, I was seen as a threat by a group of men, who never said why and she notes the irony no I don't - this is a word I avoid using, and not something I did  of Mr Absolom's wish for a 'civilised and sensible campaign' having stirred up this vitriolic feud. Jane explains that this amounts to a climbdown by Labour yes, but in respect of the last sentence in the Howarth-penned (you can tell by the typos) where they say they "did not intend" - a threat of legal action is normally a sign that the argument has been lost with an implicit acknowledgement of racism. 

Another former Reading Labour insider, Andrew Tattersall, knows their habitual practise of 'gas-lighting' all too well. He slams it as a racist campaign which shows Labour's desperation, and names John Howarth as the man responsible for a long-running and systematic campaign of artificially stimulating public fears stretching back to the 1990s. No.  He names Howarth as the man responsible for Reading Labour's leaflets over a large number of years.  Howarth is also the man whose company, Public Impact, was pimped to Labour MPs by Martin Salter, who got free use of House of Commons facilities to do so, with the connivance of Clive Soley, then a Labour MP, now in the House of Lords.

LibDems like to be known for their 'evidence-based' approach is that right?, so Warren Swaine (himself a victim of personal attacks by Labour for his use of satire) that's true decides to compare and contrast leaflets delivered by Labour in different wards.

Gareth Epps celebrates the diversity of Reading as 'one of the most harmonious communities in the UK' and agrees with his colleague that the references may not be overt racism, but they create an 'unambiguous reference', one which is designed 'to pander to racism'. yep

Conservative bloggers are also quick to get in on the bickering. Continuing Peppard ward councillor, Richard Willis (who was previously forced to apologise for describing the racist policies of Rhodesian white-minority leader Ian Smith as 'wise and benign'), is typically straight-forward in expressing his view that Labour's position is indefensible.  He's right.

Meanwhile Cllr Isobell sp! Ballsdon says Labour have 'stooped to a new low'. In particular, she notes Labour's candidate doesn't live anywhere near Church and is trying to play up any 'local' link to potential voters, however tenuous.

Isobell also provides a balanced round-up of alternate views, enabling her to judge Labour's behaviour as 'arrogant' and 'unjust'. She also directly criticises Green Party chairperson Adrian Windisch for attempting to defend Labour, saying he has been taken for a fool. She's right.

But the final word must go to Andrew Tattersall, who completely repudiates Labour's official response - he specifically highlights the inconsistency of Tony Jones, who resigned from his party for two years because of bullying treatment meted out to him he doesn't say anything of the sort, yet has now rejoined and is happy to bully others not aware he was doing that.

Oranjepan says:
Racism at any level of society is completely unacceptable, however  it is vital that all sides understand the expression of such negative sentiment is an indicator of insecurity - in this case the political insecurity of candidates and campaigners who are trying to withstand an on-rushing tide of public cynicism about politics created by irresponsible representatives.

The politics of fear and division is a vicious circle which is wrecking untold damage our democracy. Political engagement continues to decline as a result and this is presenting opportunities for populists with more extreme motives and hidden agendas.



Anonymous said...

This is a confection. There is no racism intended as far as I can see in the Labour Leaflet in Church Ward. This accusation is as bad as calling someone a "Commie" in the USA in the Macarthy era. The onus of proof then fell on the accused in contravention of the presumption of innocence. This whole business seems a bit too contrived for my liking . I feel that the voters of Church Ward will ignore this sub-plot and their vote will be influenced by the current political situation, especially the national scene and I expect Labour to win this marginal seat as it did last year. BTW I am NOT a Labour Party member and do not live in Church Ward so have no personal interest in this but believe in fighting an election on the policies of the parties and not on side issues.

Anonymous said...

I very much doubt Hacker will allow your comment through. If her posting is to be believed, she is either very loyal to the party that gave her a safe seat - or ill informed.

Her posting is embarrassing as she appears to take the Church Ward electorate to be the "moronic" public an ex-Labour Leader of the Council said they are.

Anonymous said...

I like this new look

OP said...

Really! You should wait for the 5-minute edit - you've missed several relevant links!