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Sunday, April 24, 2005

The invisible man

It has been bothering me for days. My wife received a Labour Party election communication earlier this week, which I have of course read from cover to cover. And yet something is not quite right. This morning I realised - there is not a single photograph or mention of the Prime Minister on it. Are they ashamed of him? We should be told.

Two other aspects of the leaflet strike me as interesting. Firstly, its obsession with the Liberal Democrats, clearly acknowledging that we are the main challengers to Labour in Swansea East. Secondly, the biography of the candidate and its attempt to build local links for their proposed successor to outgoing MP, Donald Anderson. The leaflet says:

'Born in 1959 in Morriston and raised in the Swansea Valley. I am married to Martin, with two children aged, 28 and 25. Our family home is in Morriston.'

A search of the electoral register for Swansea East finds nobody called Martin or Sian Catherine James eligible to vote in this General Election in this constituency. What is going on?

Update: As an exercise in measuring the sensitivity of the Labour Party to criticism (and it wasn't), this post has proved very enlightening. Within minutes of it going on-line there was a comment from a local Labour activist, followed by a telephone call and an e-mail from Sian James herself. Clearly, they are monitoring my every word.

This over-sensitivity is interesting given the way that Labour are able to get viciously personal themselves. In the final week of the local Council elections last year they delivered a highly personal, misleading and inaccurate attack on me to every home in the Parc Gwernfadog area of Morriston, despite the fact that I was not a candidate there. I have already catalogued on numerous occasions the way that Labour distort the truth to attack Liberal Democrats or as in the case of ASBOs and other policies, just tell outright lies for political advantage.

Nevertheless, this post was not meant to be a personal attack on Sian James, just a simple public enquiry so as to clarify a point in her election literature. I am happy to report therefore that she and her family are living in Caemawr Rd, Morriston. They purchased the property and moved-in in January 2005. Sian says "we therefore registered immediately with the local authority as residents. We have also registered for our bank accounts, utility accounts, trade union membership, etc. It is OUR family home - it is where I and my husband (and cat reside.) Our children are adults and left home several years ago."

If they registered to vote in January then they have been unfortunate, as the Council has failed to get them onto the register in time to vote in Swansea in this General Election. Still full marks for having a cat! I now look forward to them re-issuing the election address with pictures of the Prime Minister on it.
Maybe you could tell us where Rob Speht, the Lib Dem candidate for Swansea East is from originally? Just in case you don’t reply, it’s Pontefract, West Yorkshire, and just for absolute clarification - since when is St. Helens road in Swansea East??

And let’s look at the other Swansea based candidate – Rene Kinzett, born in Ashford, Middlesex!!

So you’re a fine one to be preaching about “local links” aren’t you!!

I’d say Sian has substantially more “local links” than Rob Speht!! Having been born and raised in the Swansea valley, and been a member of the Neath labour party for many, many years!

So cut the cheap shots!
I think the point Martyn is not where the candidate is from but where they say they are living. As someone who is from the Wirral myself I have never preached about the need to be born and bred in an area to represent it. I have lived in Swansea for nearly 27 years and consider myself to be local.

Rob Speht states clearly on his leaflet that he lives in St. Helen's Road, whilst Rene Kinzett also makes it clear where he lives. Both have published their home phone number on their election address. Neither have sought to hide their roots and nor should they.

Equally, nobody is criticising Sian for coming from Neath. I happen to like and respect her as a person. The only question I pose is, if she has a family home in Morriston then where is it and why is she not registered to vote there? If the answer is that she has only moved in there in the last month then that is fine, but why be so mysterious about it on her leaflet?
“Clearly, they are monitoring my every word” – don’t flatter yourself, and it wasn’t me who got in touch with Sian, just to make that clear!

“If they registered to vote in January then they have been unfortunate, as the Council has failed to get them onto the register in time to vote in Swansea in this General Election” unfortunate? I’d say that’s pretty much pathetic! How many other people have the council “failed to get on the register” and why?
Well let me see, Labour Party HQ are regular visitors to my blog judging from the stats so I dont think it is wrong to say that it is being monitored. I would be astonished if they were not doing so.

I did not suggest you contacted Sian. Actually, thinking about it I did e-mail her as well so I suppose that could have had triggered the contact.

I would agree with you on timescale with regards to registering to vote. If Sian did lodge the form in January and she is not on the register of eligible voters then she needs to pursue it. I could not say why it happened or whether it has happened to anybody else.

If there has been a cock-up then that is precisely what it is. For obvious reasons Electoral Registration tends to be independent of political influence so I suggest that your inferences are misplaced.
Instead of analysing my language, and second guessing what I may or may not have been implying, maybe you should find out why people who registered in JANUARY are no included on the electoral register!!

You take a very justified stance on potential fraud in postal votes; it would be nice if you took the same stance with council officials leaving electors off the electoral register – especially when the elector in question happens to be a candidate!!
Sian is perfectly capable of doing that herself! And we are only talking about one person here.
I’m not suggesting that Sian isn’t perfectly able to investigate these things herself, don’t try and twist my words, and it’s because the person in question, just happens to be a candidate in the election!!

And who knows how many other people haven’t been registered in time? It just happens that this particular incident has been brought to light here!
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