Friday, April 23, 2010

Guardian's GE2010 Editorial: Had Your Say? Here's Mine

Interesting that the Guardian has asked readers to contribute ahead of their editorial meeting to decide on the paper's line (if any) on who should lead the UK after May 7. The meeting is underway and any new contributions now won't be considered during that meeting.

The modal answer overall - mostly quite short and sock puppety efforts, but a few with reasons - was "I agree with Nick" so vote Satan, I mean Lib Dem; Labour I'd say a solid second with some good arguments; quite a few saying recommend or back no-one; a few for the Greens, especially where they're truly in play; and even a couple or three suggesting Conservatives.

You can read Alan Rusbridger's or at least the Guardian staff's invitation HERE and that's where the table comes from; my own comment using 4999 of the characters allowed which in the subs rule of thumb is about 800 words is HERE. It doubles as a bit of a gloss of last night's Manchester Withington Hustings. And strangely enough it calls for the Guardian to back Gordon Brown and Labour. Including in Lib Dem/Labour marginals.

For seats where we're not in play I suggest they call for Lib Dems or Nationalists or Green - whoever is best placed to first startle and then beat the Conservatives. For Northern Ireland I opine leave well alone except "anyone but Ulster Unionist". My extended family there are pretty resolute SDLP supporters including some activists, but would I believe support Labour/Co-op if available.

Dear Mr Rusbrudger

Love your work!

The Guardian should support Gordon Brown.

An outright win could still be possible but with the bookies still calling it for the Tories outright or as largest party and all the talk being of a hung or balanced parliament the Guardian's objective ought to be to do what you can towards Labour being the largest party.

I live in Manchester Withington. This is a Lib Dem / Labour marginal with a notional majority of around 500. The Green candidate Brian Candeland was not only best of the rest at last night's hustings but was better than the incumbent John Leech (Lib Dem). Labour's Lucy Powell was head and shoulders above the field. Feisty and fair, even speaking up for Tory Chris Green when planted jeering and heckling followed a planted questions (copies of which appeared to be in several hands around the room.

Mr Leech won the seat in a remarkable 17% swing - three times the national average - driven by 1. shocking and as it goes untrue claims that our regional Cancer Hospital, the Christie was threatened with closure, with leaflets even distributed in chemo- waiting areas 2. the War and a false claim from Leech that his Labour opponent Keith now Lord Bradley voted [amend]for it, he voted against in the key votes[/amend] 3. the standard Student Top Up Fees schtick, which of course LD HE spokesman Stephen Williams (Bristol West) has been demonstrably all over the place with and 4. hordes of tactical Tories backing anyone but Labour.

Although making much of his "clean" record on expenses Mr Leech has featured yesterday in both the Spectator and the Daily Mail as an example of a Lib Dem MP who games the allowances rules - as recommended by Mr Clegg's head of campaigning. He has a secret printing society, unincorporated and unaccountable, whose name appears on material they cannot possibly print on their known equipment. He has given lump sums to his regional office. He like the printing society sub-let from his party who lease from a supporter. And if there are the customary tithes from councillors direct or via the printing society these don't seem to have been declared to the Electoral Commission.

Another of his opponents last night Yasmin Zalzala who was the LD PC in the two previous elections made several strident attacks on him and his party which reached a pitch where MC Jim Hancock offered some kindly advice. "You are in danger of losing the room" he suggested.

This was a shame because Dr Zalzala had bothered to do something other parties and bloggers (mea culpa) had not bothered to do. Mr Leech has repeatedly claimed to have secured NHS funding for a new dentist in the area. This just does not ring true. And Yasmin has used the Freedom of Information Act to get information which she says reveals that the MP had nothing whatsoever to do with this funding. This coup was lost in the J'Accuse action.

To cut a long story short Mr Leech would be no great loss either to the constituency or to his party, apart from numerically.

Lucy Powell in contrast would be a boon to both the constituency and to the Labour Party and the country. Intelligent, feisty, cheerful, fair-minded, locally born and bred and living on the patch with her young family. And also progressively independent. Against the Iraq War, hopeful for an early return for troops from Afghanistan, with the NUS on Top Up Fees, and vehemently opposed to Trident replacement.

This is why the Guardian should support Gordon Brown and Labour in the 2010 election. To get new broom Lucy and others like her into parliament. To make sure any hung or balanced parliament is progressive. To keep Cam and GOO out of Numbers 10 and 11.

So Labour first and foremost. In every seat where Labour are in play. Whatever the opposition. No-one but no-one can calibrate a hung parliament. What people need to do is imagine their Alternative Vote on the national question - Labour or Tory - and cast their constituency vote with that in mind.

Following this, where Labour are not currently serious players you should back Lib Dems, Nationalists or even Greens. You should leave Northern Ireland well alone but simply encourage tactical anyone-but-UUP thinking. Above all else the Guardian must do its part to protect the Public Service workers who you rely on for readers of both editorial material and advertisements.

As Stonewall said to the floundering David Cameron: "You want us to vote for you? We want you to vote for us." In this case WE being public sector workers, those in the private sector who rely on a big and bouncy public sector, and public sector users of all sorts. Guardian Readers R Us.

Yours sincerely

Chris Paul

Labour of Love

Footnote: The other two candidates in ManWit are: Dr Robert "Bob" Gutfreund-Walmsley, an old Tanky who is standing for UKIP and was the comedian of the bunch; and Marcus Farmer who is casting off any and all semblance to any political credo as the independent's independent

FOR THE AVOIDANCE OF DOUBT: I'm Labour. But this remains a personal, scurrilous, irreverent, satirical, did I mention personal? yes! bloggeration.

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