Saturday, 24 July 2010

The Leaflet War – Labour 2, LibDem 1

The next local election in Manchester isn't till next May, but as far as the big parties are concerned, the election campaign is already on. I've had three publications through the door in the last few weeks that can be considered election leaflets.

The first one was from Labour – an expensive looking glossy full colour leaflet with a picture of the local Labour mob on the front and a big “Thank You” headline. No need to thank me, I certainly didn't vote Labour – much more fun to run against them, even though the Labour candidate did manage to squeeze back in with a measly 2,247 more votes than me.

The next leaflet I got was one of those LibDem Focus things – simpler colour scheme but broadly similar layout. Another “Thank You” headline. A few more pictures of the local LibDems and also a bit more text. Also one of those standard bar chart diagrams that they like to stick on the front of their Focus leaflets, showing LibDems and Labour as “neck and neck” and discounting the other four parties with the words “The other parties Vote has Collapsed” - this is untrue by the way, as you can easily check by having a look at the 2008 election results. The Tory and Green paper candidates got about the same result as last time. The BNP loser got more votes than last time, despite doing no campaigning – I put this down to a combination of having the benefit of also having a General Election candidate, plus the incredible amount of free publicity those clowns get from the other party. And of course, me being the first Libertarian Party candidate to stand in Manchester, we don't know yet what a typical Libertarian election result is going to be.

I've got nothing against the opposition sending me this stuff. It's their right and the money to pay for it has been raised voluntarily. But the third publication that I've received is different.

This publication is not technically a party political leaflet, but it might as well be. It's the latest edition of the “Manchester People” – a newspaper-style publication printed and distributed by Manchester City Council and funded by the taxpayer. Sixteen pages of propaganda saying what a great job the council is doing. The front page is dominated by a story praising the Manchester Day Parade - £200,000 down the drain, but not one word of criticism. Another story is about the council's plans to blow £1,000,000,000 redeveloping St Peter's Square. There's nothing much wrong with it at the moment, that I can see – maybe the councillors are just bored with the view. Again, it's a completely one-sided story, not admitting any criticism, typical of this publication. Although it doesn't actually tell you to vote Labour at the next election, since it consistently praises everything the council does, and as the council is dominated by Labour, the message is clear. Local councils shouldn't be allowed to get away with this kind of thing, and hopefully when the Libertarian Party gets some councillors elected we'll be able to put a stop to it. But for the time being the working people of this city are being forced to pay for this publication to the tune of over £140,000 per year.

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