Week 1: Sunday Night Sideways
I’ve put it off for as long as I can but it’s time to wheel out the Sunday Night Sideways look at local politics. Thursday 2nd of May 2019 will see the polls open for Borough Council elections. You’ll be voting for the 54 people who will represent you for the next 4 years.
This is not about Brexit, Jeremy Corbyn, Mark Pritchard or Lucy Allan (although a look at the latest Wrekin Labour leaflet, you’d think it was). It’s about the issues that affect the town, our environment and local issues.
I hope to be shining a light on those Election leaflet half-truths, twisted-tweets and take a light-hearted look at the electioneering goings on.
It’s certainly going to be a close one. The last full Borough election was in 2015. Although Conservatives polled around 4,500 more votes than Labour overall, Cllr Kuldip Sahota led Labour to victory. Just. Labour secured 27 seats on the Council, Conservatives 23, Independant 1 and Liberal Democrats 3 seats. We’ve had a couple of changes since then that have given Labour a small breathing space.
The huge elephant in the room is the UKIP vote. While UKIP failed to achieve a single seat in 2015, over 16,000 people in our borough voted for them. My understanding is that they will field just a handful of candidates in 2019, changing the voting spread immensely. Don’t think that UKIP voters will automatically switch to Conservative, insiders suggest that it’s pretty well split down the middle.
We’ll be having a look at which wards this affects the most over the coming weeks.
The Big Issues
Dominating the election will be the A&E issue. Is there a T&W council-led solution to having the A&E fully staffed & operating safely 24/7 in Telford or is just a need to be seen to be doing something by the electorate? In a recent Poll on Telford Live Twitter, 77% of respondents said it was their most important issue. Expect election leaflets to have big headlines and little detail.
It’s all kicking off in Newport!
No stranger to a twitter spat, Peter Scott, the only T&W Borough Councillor to be elected as an Independent, outed himself as one of the anonymous admins on the popular (and very entertaining) Newport Shropshire News, Views and idle chit chat. Facebook page. It all went wrong when he replied as the page to a post questioning his response to a tweet by Lucy Allan MP. It wouldn’t really have been newsworthy but for Peters fierce tirade against such accounts, telling the unnamed admins on the T&W Conservatives twitter account to ‘Come out from behind your keyboard or shut up’.
The Cllr for Newport North & West has now locked his twitter account and stepped down from the Facebook page as Admin. He told me ‘I have been a contributor but have never used it for myself or to further my position. I am not connected now. My view is that a Tory supporter has used it against me.”
As an aside, Peter Scott can be seen appearing as an extra in many popular TV shows, but I wonder how he feels about this cameo in one of Wrekin Labour’s election leaflets?
Ex-MP Heading for Borough Seat?
Telford’s ex-MP David Wright took a step back into local politics just over a year ago by taking one of the smallest wards in the town. He has been spotted out and about campaigning in St Georges with Richard Overton for the May elections.
Newport South & East
Adrian Meredith in Newport is retiring from being a Cllr at the age of 82. He represented Newport South & East with a massive majority.
You would expect a fellow Conservative to step right in but Ex-Army veteran and Liberal Democrat Thomas Janke has his sights trained on this seat. He has already turned his campaign up to 11, gunning for Emma Thomas, who is hoping to step into Cllr Meredith slippers. A recent leaflet claims that Emma lives 9 miles away from the ward by road. I make it little less than that, and if he used the CAV 100 he used during his service in Iraq, I think he might too!
Something to share? firstname.lastname@example.org – anonymity guaranteed.
The last time I did this, I was kind of threatened with legal action in a roundabout way for referencing a story that the complainant maintained was false. The complainant told me that they have never lost a libel case. That may be the case but it turns out that this particular story wasn’t false at all, I contacted the journalist who wrote it and it turns out the complainant didn’t sue the paper after all. I can keep my GoFundMe page on ice.