In the last few days, I've had a couple of Labour leaflets through my door - both of which had slightly strange elements to them.
The first was Diane Abbott's Freepost leaflet. Most of it was perfectly solid stuff -though I was disappointed to see that she didn't mention the war in Afghanistan, preferring instead to point back to her opposition to the war in Iraq. However, the odd part was her assertion that "I am currently campaigning to make it easier for innocent people to get their name off the DNA database". This is odd because, as a potential constituent pointed out to me about a week ago, this vote on a Tory/Lib Dem amendment was the most recent opportunity for MPs to support the deletion of innocent people's DNA records as soon as they are found not guilty. Umm, Diane voted against it!
I am genuinely wondering if I have gotten the wrong end of the stick here, as it seems strange in the extreme to trumpet a policy stance in a leaflet which goes out to 70,000 voters if it is so easily disproved by one of your most recent votes. Does anyone out there fancy writing to Diane and asking what on earth that vote was all about? I'm certainly intending to ask her about it at our next hustings.
The second Labour leaflet was a capacious four sides of A3 from my opponents in Clissold ward. Again, most of it was fine - though I'm not sure claiming Hackney's recycling rate as an achievement is very wise, given that it is amongst the lowest in London - but the strange bit was the map on the inside cover. Clearly wanting to make it seem as if they had been doing things on every street, the incumbent councillors laid claim to pretty much anything that has ever happened in the ward over the last four years - including the delivery of completely basic services. Working street lights, in this leaflet, qualify as a major victory. Roads without potholes are, it seems, the height of Hackney Labour's ambitions.
I have no particular objection to this. If Labour really want to portray themselves as nothing more than competent bureaucrats, bereft of a wider vision for the borough, I'm happy for them do so! Personally, I prefer our leaflet - the one that sets out a scheme for free insulation throughout the borough, a living wage for all council employees including contract workers, a local job creation strategy, renewable energy for public buildings, disinvestment of the £10 million that the Council has invested in the arms trade, and much much more. I think that local people will respond to a party that can deliver basic services *and* look to shape a progressive future - so long may Labour continue to talk entirely about dog mess!
In other news, the Green Party's General Election manifesto was launched today, and you can find our Hackney manifesto online too. Happy reading!