It is surely no coincidence that the Labour Party (and their new-found friend - if previously sworn enemy- Dominic Cummings) are doing their best to throw mud at the Government and the PM in the few weeks before the ‘super-Thursday’ elections on May 6th. There’s a lot at stake. Around 5000 councillors will be defending their seats, or challenging the incumbents; the control of 145 local councils in England is up for grabs (and the political control of your local council is probably as important in your everyday lives as the Westminster Government- roads, schools, planning, social services and the council tax needed to pay for them. Conservative Wiltshire Council does a first-class job of it.) There are elections for 39 Police and Crime Commissioners (Jonathon Seed is your man); there are Mayoral elections in all kinds of places; there’s a by-election in Hartlepool, elections for the London Mayor and 25 London Assembly seats; and dozens more in Wales and Scotland.
So it’s hardly surprising that political passions are running high. And it is a healthy part of democracy that candidates fight their corners to allow the electorate to make up their minds about who will be best qualified to run their (local) lives. But Labour and the (more or less invisible) Lib Dems nationally and locally must not allow those perfectly reasonable political debates to become nasty and personalised over issues which have no bearing of any kind on the bodies being elected.
Sir James Dyson, for example, has pointed out the absurdity of the claims that his text exchanges with the PM about Covid ventilators last March was somehow or another improper. Thank goodness the PM was pulling out the stops to procure ventilators; swapping texts with senior industrialists in that effort may be unconventional- but it was all about getting things done. In the end, Dyson did not make any ventilators (at a cost to them of £20miliion); and anyhow the suggestion that this was all because he is a large Tory donor is simply nonsense. I remember, for example, Gordon Brown as Chancellor coming down to Malmesbury to open the new Dyson factory.
Similarly, I have no idea how the refurb of No 10 was paid for but am certain that all of the rules were carefully followed. Nor do I really care. The taxpayer paid not a penny for it (although arguably, perhaps they should be paying to maintain the official residence of the head of Government); so the only matter at dispute seems to be whether or not the PM properly declared any possible loan from the Conservative Party towards these costs. The wallpaper in No 10 may amuse the London media but it is of minimal concern in the real world of these elections.
Then there are ridiculous claims about some reported remark indicating that the PM was ready to sacrifice lives in favour of keeping the economy open. What drivel. And what desperately low steps some people will take to try to discredit their political opponents.
So let’s get away from all these guttersnipe personal attacks and focus on the big issues- the Pandemic here and around the world; Russia amassing its troops on the Ukrainian border; and your local services and how to pay for them. These are the matters on which you can opine in the ballot box next Thursday, when I hope (and am confident) that Wiltshire as a whole will once again return a Conservative administration and a Conservative Police and Crime Commissioner.