Not everyone seems to have understood the importance of toning down rhetoric
PUBLISHED: 13:12 16 April 2019
I often find local election campaigns very frustrating because far too many politicians see them as glorified opinion polls on the performance of national government rather than a chance for voters to have a say on how local services are run.
This year, at least, there seems to be an attempt both on the local doorsteps and the national party headquarters to talk about things that are actually up for election – but in Ipswich both of the large parties seem determined to shoot themselves in the foot.
The Labour Party, which will continue to run the borough whatever happens on May 2, is making a big thing out of the fact that brown bins are still provided free to households in the town.
What they aren't making so much fuss about is the fact that these bins will be rendered useless for much of the year because you're no longer going to be able to use them for kitchen waste.
You'll no longer be able to use them for your potato peelings, your orange peel, or the paper you shred. They can only be used for garden waste – grass cuttings, hedge trimmings and non-invasive weeds.
You can, apprently, use it for windfall fruit from a tree or bush. Which raises the question, if I eat an apple that falls from my tree in the autumn without taking it indoors, can I put the core in the brown bin? I'd love to know how to argue that!
This is being done to save money. The council is trying to save money by being less green – making households put perfectly compostable waste in the black bin to go to the county's incinerator.
That's exactly what the Conservative districts did by introducing charges for their brown bins. Suffolk, the Greenest County? You're having a laugh!
The Ipswich Conservatives haven't exactly covered themselves with glory among some voters with the slogan they've used for their campaign promoting a policy of favouring Ipswich residents on council housing lists.
I'm not sure that having a local qualification is that radical or unreasonable an idea – it already exists to some extent although other factors can be taken into account.
What has really concerned some people is the slogan they used to promote the policy: “Ipswich Conservatives. Campaigning for Local Houses for Local People.”
I really can see how that can be seen to have racist connotations – and for that reason I feel the party was ill-advised to use it . . . unless they wanted to stoke a debate on political language.
What makes the slogan even more difficult to believe is its inevitable link with the BBC sitcom “The League of Gentlemen.”
I don't know if this was intentional. If it was, it makes me wonder if anyone within Ipswich Conservative Association has ever watched an episode of the show. Yes, it is funny (occasionally) but the characters are so grotesque, who in their right mind would actually want to be associated with them?
To quote the finest sitcom ever made, was there no one in the room to say: “Do you really think that's wise, Sir?” when this campaign strategy was being discussed.
With this one slogan the Ipswich Tories have opened themselves up to ridicule and accusations of racism in one fell swoop – quite an achievement for nine little words!
I wrote last week about the need to tone down the language of political debate. After I spread it on Twitter it received a considerable number of likes and retweets – including some from leading Conservatives like the party's parliamentary candidate for Ipswich Tom Hunt.
It is difficult to see how supporting calls to tone down political rhetoric squares with coming with publishing inflammatory slogans!
Sad news from Paris
Like millions across the world, I watched with horror on Monday night as fire engulfed Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris.
I visited the city with my family four years ago and we went to the Basilica outside Notre Dame. However we were only in Paris for a day because we were staying near Compeigne, and the queues were so long that we could not get inside.
“There's always time for another visit,” we thought.
Thankfully it now looks as if Notre Dame can be rebuilt – and hopefully we will be able to visit it again. But that is many years away. Fire is so destructive that it only took three hours to ruin a building that had been an icon to the world for 800 years.