One thing that you learn fighting elections is that the oldest tricks in the book are, well, the oldest tricks in the book.
This is the first time that I’ve been called upon to defend a seat, and therefore been on the receiving end of some of this.
Our rivals in a two member ward are two Tories and two Labour. As you do, I ask supporters if they mind letting me have the rival literature so that I can see if what my opponents are saying about me is fair.
My favourite (if that’s the word) ploy is the one my Tory rivals are using. This is to suggest that the incumbents don’t do enough.
Can you even name you current councillors?
Crows the Tory leaflet…
…and even if you can name them, when did you last see them?
On the face of it, it seems very plausible. But actually, it’s a bit hard to defend yourself, isn’t it?
In my own case, the first question actually sounds a bit silly to most residents I have spoken to. I am Group Leader, and I was the Parliamentary Candidate last year and came a strong second. I’ve been in the local paper so often I get stopped in the street. So yes, they usually can name me and therefore the question sounds facetious.
The second question, the one about how often do you see your councillor is more troubling. Think about it, ‘how often do you see your local councillor?’ It really depends on whether or not you have cause to. It’s a bit like saying ‘how often do you see your plumber?’ Well, not very often, I hope! Clearly, I see some residents quite often and I see other occasionally. But the majority won’t need to see me regularly at all.
Still, if the Tories were to beat us, can I assume that for the next four years they would both patrol around the ward on a regular basis wearing brightly coloured uniforms with ‘councillor’ emblazoned across the back – just to ensure that they were ‘visible’ enough?