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Tuesday, June 01, 2004

Cloud Cuckoo Land

The Labour Assembly Member for Caerphilly, Jeff Cuthbert, has resumed his letter writing career with a missive to the Western Mail that took my breath away. He wrote:

"The elections due on June 10 are nothing to do with Iraq. Councillors and MEPs have no remit whatsoever over the Government's foreign policy. Attempts by opposition parties to confuse the electorate are nothing more than a cynical and opportunist move to win support for their candidates through default"


"The people that I have met so far whilst campaigning in Caerphilly for the local government elections are far more concerned about issues such as education, social services and anti-social behaviour."


"If the opposition parties succeed in winning these elections by misleading arguments then they will have won on false pretences. I don't think this will happen."

It is an old trick - define your own battleground and then defy the opposition to fight you on your terms. The fact is that people are talking about Iraq on the doorsteps. They are also talking, as Jeff said, about education, health and anti-social behaviour. The verdict is that Labour has let them down on all these issues and that will not be voting for the Government party this time. As The Mirror said on 19 May 2004:

"IT COULD have paid for over three million heart bypass operations, trained over 70,000 nurses or built 280 badly-needed schools. It would have met the salaries of 154,000 new nurses or 132,000 police officers for a year.. Instead, £2.75 billion has been spent on war in Iraq which.. hasn't made the world a safer place."

Jeff's letter is astonishingly naive and artless, but it also misses the point rather spectacularly. He insults the intelligence of the electorate by suggesting that (a) they might be taken in by opposition party propaganda and (b) they might be taken in by his argument. That is the problem when politicians live in a glass bubble, they listen to what people say but then re-interpret it in their own language and politics so that the electorate no longer recognise what it is they have said.

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