Saturday, 24 May 2014

When local isn't local - Bradford's UKIP story


This isn't a post about policies. It's not a post about whether Ukip are good, bad or the spawn of Beelzebub. Nor is it a post-mortem on this year's local council elections in Bradford. Elections that saw Labour (just) take overall control of the Council.

It's an observation on the nature of local campaigning and the exploitation - without the offer of solution - of people's worries and concerns.

In Bingley Rural and the Worth Valley the massed troops of Ukip's 'People's Army' are few in number. Judging by attendance at the count, they are no better served for activists than Conservatives or Labour. In truth there are probably fewer.

Yet they managed to deliver four different pieces of literature to some parts of Bingley Rural, similar numbers of different leaflets in Worth Valley, and have the time to fold, stuff and mail up to two personalised letters for some residents. Trust me, dear reader, I know how much time and effort this takes.

Plus of course, Ukip took advantage of the Yorkshire wide free delivery available to all political parties for the European elections.

I'm saying all this because the reality, of course, is that Ukip didn't deliver all those leaflets. They - quite legally and legitimately - paid private delivery companies to do it for them. Lots of nice, hard-working people (quite a few of them from assorted parts of Eastern Europe) earning a few quid an hour tromping along the streets delivering. I followed one such deliverer while getting out the leaflets in Cullingworth for Bingley Rural's now re-elected Cllr Ellis and my Worth Valley colleagues met similar in Oxenhope.

Nothing wrong (assuming the election expenses allowed are not exceeded) with all this of course. But think how much it costs. And compare this to how most of those wicked 'mainstream party' local candidates get their literature out. We do it the old fashioned way - either ourselves by plodding up and down dropping each leaflet in a letterbox or by asking other local residents very nicely whether they'd mind delivering a hundred or so leaflets for us. For all the criticisms of us, the reality at the local level is that our campaigning is absolutely local and dependent on the availability of volunteers to do the leg work.

If we replace legs with money (which is what Ukip did in Bingley Rural and Worth Valley) the nature of local politics changes. In the simplest of terms it stops being local. For sure, you need to have a local candidate and ten electors. But that's it - the rest is done centrally using targeted leaflets, mailings and so forth. And the message is no longer one about campaigns for a new village hall or the options for traffic calming along a dangerous stretch of highway. Instead it becomes a more general appeal based on national or international issues - a negative camapaign, anonymous and exploitative.

This might be the future of local elections especially if the numbers of activists dwindle. But, if it is that future, we will be poorer for it and will expose ourselves to the buying of elections. The good news is that, for this time at least, Ukip's attempt to buy its way into Bradford politics failed - all that effort and just one seat. Nevertheless, there will be a future attempt by Ukip - or some other party - to do likewise.

One thing I do know is that my election address next year will include the words - "written in Cullingworth, printed in Bradford and delivered to you by volunteers from your village."



Curmudgeon said...

Surely this isn't the first time ever in the history of local elections this has happened?

I'd be surprised if the LibDems had never done it.

Anonymous said...

How does this compare, if indeed it is true, with a coalition minister emplying illegal as servant?

Anonymous said...

Might your administration divert tarmac from speed bumps to the potholes? Well some of it!

Simon Cooke said...

Yes a Conservative administration would increase the budget for road repairs - our budget for 2014/15 (voted down by Labour) included £2 million from reserves specifically for this purpose.

Diverting money from bumps to holes is trickier since most of the bumps money come directly from government for the purpose of building said bumps (and other traffic calming & road safety things).

Vi Winner said...

This article like many of the Tories promises are pack of complete lies. Stephen Henry who represented UKIP in Bingley rural hand wrote folded and delivered many of them himself. He also gave other active Bradford UKIP members leaflets and letters to personally hand deliver. Stephen Henry is dedicated and hardworking candidate and this article libelous.

Stephen Henry said...

Why make these accusations and libellous lies in this article about UKIP and myself who you haven't actually named but was the prospective candidate for UKIP so actually run the campaign.Let me introduce myself.My name is Stephen Henry and I represented UKIP at the local elections so you know directly who is responding.
Let me answer your points raised which I have issues with.
1) Paragraph 2, it's an observation...etc
If you had taken the time to read my personal leaflet worries and concerns were mentioned in the" what matters" part of the leaflet then it goes on to state "but what matters to you?"
This to my mind is endeavouring to get the issues and concerns from all of the electorate so that should I have been elected I would have been armed and ready to stand up and fight for them
2) Paragraph 5 Plus of course........etc
UKIP did NOT take advantage of the Yorkshire wide free delivery available to all political parties for the European elections.
3) Paragraph 6 I'm saying all this because...etc
Now this is where the libellous lies really come into their own.I did NOT pay any private delivery company to deliver anything for me.It was 100% delivered either by my wife, myself or an active UKIP Bradford member.In fact you state you were following one such deliverer,this was either my wife,myself or a local businessman and resident who has lived in Cullingworth for many years.I can quite categorically state that I have paid no one apart from the Royal Mail
and this was paid for personally by me In fact I paid for all my personalised leaflets and letters.
4) Paragraphs7&8.Nothing wrong...etc
I have already covered this in paragraph 6 but I will restate that it was done the old fashioned way ie by plodding up and down dropping each leaflet or letter in a letterbox or using active UKIP members for assistance.Regarding the local level campaigning please refer to item 1) but to expand on that for you to say the messages aren't local are quite frankly ridiculous.While I agree the messages are both national and international they must affect the local issues.Giving £55 million a day to the EU and that's just for membership it has a knock on effect on each and every citizen in the UK when our LOCAL ( there's a clue there)services are being cut as we are short of money in the councils budgets.Is this not affecting LOCAL issues?
When immigrants arrive in our local communities and (I'm quite happy they do as long as we require their particular skills and can speak English)take jobs from the UK citizen and employers pay these people less than they would the UK citizen or alternatively claim benefits irrespective whether it's instantly or 3 months time does this not have a knock on effect on the LOCAL communities?
I feel that whoever you vote for
then the above issues have a huge effect on our LOCAL communities as we may not have the necessary funds to build as you say a new village hall or traffic calming measures.None of this is scaremongering but fact.It is most certainly not negative,anonymous or exploitative but plain common sense.
These are the facts of my campaign and not the libellous lies you have written and I expect a retraction of this otherwise I will have to consider my options ie legal action and or reporting to the election commission.The choice is yours.
Just to finish off I would represent Bingley Rural to the best of my abilities without expecting any pay apart from travel and subsistence allowance going from one village to another or other council business.I would be doing it to assist the communities of Bingley Rural not to receive £27435.74 as you did in 2012/2013 or Cllr Ellis who was paid £29196.96 in the same year.This could help the new village hall or traffic calming measures or would you prefer to keep your personal bank balance increasing at the expense of your LOCAL community?These are published figures for all the community to see on the Bradford Council website.Is this LOCAL enough for you?

Stephen Henry said...

My name is Stephen Henry and I was the prospective candidate for Bingley Rural representing the local elections.I will give a few lines as response to this article which are quite frankly ridiculous with lots of libelous lies.
Both my wife,myself and active UKIP Bradford members delivered all our leaflets and letters.The only outside company I used was the Royal Mail so I was assisting in employing people.I did not use any other outside company employing possible East Europeans or any other denomination.In fact the only 2 people delivering for me that were not Bradfordians were myself who is a Lancastrian but have lived in the Bradford district for over 30 years and a lady who came from around London but once again has lived in the Bradford area for many years.You state you followed a person delivering on my behalf in Cullingworth.This could only have been myself ,my wife or a local businessman who owns his own company and whats more lives in Cullingworth so why tell lies,it gains you nothing only a bad reputation but not knowing you ,you may already have that!!
The issues I used in the election affected every person in the UK never mind the ward.Giving £55 million a day to the EU means there a huge cuts to all council budgets so I would suggest that is a LOCAL issue.
Rather than writing this rubbish that you do consider working on your constituents behalf more.I certainly would.People within your ward that I know do not even know you let alone met you.Consider them.All I know now is when it comes to the next election you are going to fight dirty,your article proves it.I will be ready and waiting for you!!

Anonymous said...

As a Cullingworth resident since 1969, Cooke has never knocked on my door!

Anonymous said...

And I thought the money for roads and everything else came from us taxpayers, silly me.

Anonymous said...

A recent freedom of information request regarding what council tax is spent on in Bradford, alarmingly disclosed that 90% or this tax goes on housing benefit, what is your comment on this amount, as its way above many other councils, and seems rather unsustainable to put it mildly.

Anonymous said...

Silence. Why?