I’ve been pondering a deluge of election material that has been jamming the letterbox over the last few days.
I’ve not much interest in it per se, as I only ever vote tactically or negatively anyway and I’m not likely to make my mind up on the basis of a flyer that looks at first glance like a pizza menu.
But the stakes are high in the forthcoming European elections, with the prospect that Liverpool could elect a BNP MEP.
And I’ve been struck by how combative the tone of the election materials has been.
This is particularly true of the Lib Dems, who have (presumably intentionally) released a pamphlet made to resemble a free sheet that slates Labour.
The Lib Dems’ material seems to me to be the worst, slamming Merseyside Labour MPs for the failure of the fuel poverty bill, for having their heads in the trough over expenses and ‘stealing’ cash destined for Liverpool to ‘bail out bankers’.
Two stories from Dale Street Blue caught my eye recently, the death of union legend Jack Jones at the grand old age of 96 and the resignation of Liverpool Labour’s ethics spokesperson Louise Baldock.
Jones was a giant of trade unionism and born in Liverpool long ago enough to be a walking talking record of most of the historic movement in the UK. Originally a docker, he rose through the ranks of the Transport and General Workers Union and became a spokesman for the TUC.
He fought in the Spanish Civil War – which is an experience so far from the vast majority of most people’s experience and imagination these days it almost sounds absurd.
He was principled and undoubtedly tough, giving both Labour and Conservative governments a hard time in the 70s. Agree with him or not, he represented an old-fashioned style of politics that doesn’t really exist any more.
It would be easy to draw parallels between the likes of Jones and Liverpool’s current politicians, seemingly locked in an endless bout of tit-for-tat power struggles and point-scoring, but I think that would miss the point.
I decry the behaviour of Liverpool’s politicians and wish they’d sort themselves out – the empire-building, personality cults and ego trips are all too obvious to everyone – but politics should always have an element of the knockabout and the passionate.
If every name called in the Jack Jones era of politics had resulted in a resignation, there wouldn’t be anyone left to run the tiniest and most obscure worker council, student body or pressure group, nevermind city, region or country.
It’s no wonder the Tories have been keeping their mouths shut over the last couple of years, when the likes of Conservative Shadow Home Secretary Chris Grayling can propose Manchester United and England defender Gary Neville as a good role model for Liverpool youngsters.
It’s such a mind-bogglingly strange thing to say, even before you factor in the fact that Neville plays for the most hated football in the country, and the fact that there is probably no-one more hated by Reds and people in Liverpool generally. Here’s why:
“I can’t stand Liverpool, I can’t stand Liverpool people, I can’t stand anything to do with them.”
Grayling went on to admit that he shouldn’t have said Gary Neville, he meant to say Ryan Giggs instead. Liverpool fans are unimpressed.
Almost as if to prove that Labour and the Lib Dems don’t have the monopoly on going for each others’ throats, the local party has found its members taking each other to court and being beastly to each other.
Basically Dick Calver, former chairman of Wirral West Conservative Association, is sued for libel by Bahram Noorani, a ‘Greasby-based Iranian Conservative’ for (allegedly) alleging that Noorani made a series of bizarre and threatening phonecalls to Calver and his family.
In turn Noorani accuses Calver of directing racial slurs at him. Eventually Noorani’s case is thrown out and the Judge labels Noorani ‘responsible’ for the calls, but not before a former Wirral councillor giving evidence on Noorani’s behalf is revealed to be due in court to plead guilty to ‘making indecent images’.