Thursday, October 13, 2011

Sparkbrook by-election commentary Pt 1

I'm working my way up to tackling the big political issues, like, y'know, world peace, but for now, here's a quick thought on the Sparkbrook ward city council by-election next month on 10 November. Specifically, what I'm learning from the leaflets being pushed through the door.

I've chosen Labour to look at purely because they are the only party to have given me anything to read so far, with the exception of a terse postcard from the Greens which said we are Green, we woz ere, you woz not, or something to like effect.

Disclaimer: I'm not a member of a political party, nor am I involved in Sparkbrook politics. I'll happily deconstruct any political literature I come across, just for the sheer geek-out-ability of it.

As you can see from
this year's results in May, Sparkbrook is something of an electoral anomaly in that Respect are a force to be reckoned with. Up till then, they had had all three seats for Sparkbrook. Their three councillors included the formidable Salma Yaqoob, who's triggered the by-election by stepping down for health reasons.

So it's no surprise that, with Salma off the scene, Labour's leaflet strikes a magnanimous tone. Perhaps it's courtesy, certainly there's no political capital in going on hard on Respect under the circumstances
(unlike in previous local elections)

Yep, it's clear who the enemy is here.

Here we have a critique of national politics playing proxy for local politics. Understandable but frustrating from the standpoint of wanting to make an informed choice at the ballot box.

The policy solutions? Cutting tuition fees, a tax on bankers' bonuses to create more jobs and a new law on apprenticeships. All interesting policies I'd like to examine ... as part of a UK election and political grassroots debate between elections. None are in the gift of Birmingham City Council, our beneficent municipal Godzilla.

Interesting emphasis on young people's problems, though. Is Labour trying to politicise youth, or appeal to their more-likely-to-vote parents and elder relatives?

Lib Dems and Tories picking on the people of Sparkbrook? Watch out! Sounds as if Mike Whitby is out to steal your lunch money.

I'm just a little disappointed about the standard of political discourse here.

To be fair to Labour, I will add that we also received a letter from local MP Roger Godsiff- making it 200% more literature than I've received from Respect, the Lib Dems or the Conservatives.

While two pages of text risks TL:DR it does include some local proposals:
  • Gating alleyways to prevent them being used for drug deals (is this current Council policy? they're trying to gate our alley at the moment)
  • Community-led projects like insulation, recycling, solar panels (OK - that does push my buttons)
  • More local schooling (not sure what this means but given that I don't have a hard working family and am just a feckless single, I probably don't need to).
There's a major dollop of jam tomorrow with this - the deal seems to be 'help Labour become bigger, if not the biggest party on the council, and we'll see you right.' But hey, at least that's a sensible local political strategy.

I also need to thank Labour for the statistic in the letter that 25% of people in Sparkbrook are unemployed. I mean, for Zarquon's sake, this ought to be a major wake-up call to everyone of any political persuasion and none in my neck of the woods.

Next question: so what are we going to do about it?

No comments:

Post a Comment