The rhetoric has started …With just three weeks to go to the elections for seven Boston seats on Lincolnshire County Council, our local politicians are dusting off their phrasebooks to find the words needed to win the day.
And according to one local report, it all comes down to four words - potholes, immigration and welfare reforms.
But whatever the issues, the big talking point is whether after all these years the Conservatives might see their stranglehold on Lincolnshire loosened.
After all, the Tories are running well behind Labour in the national opinion polls, whilst UKIP has gained more than 30 council seats in just three months.
Despite what some see as the writing on the wall, Boston Borough Council leader and Tory county council candidate Pete Bedford apparently remains upbeat.
He told the Boston Standard that he hoped for a clean sweep of the borough’s seven county seats – one of which is currently held by Independent Ray Newell, who is not seeking re-election.
And how’s this for confidence?
“I always think it is very, very difficult to knock out a sitting councillor if they have done their work properly.
“I know our councillors have worked very, very hard over the last four years for Boston and Lincolnshire as a whole.”
Interestingly, Councillor Bedford’s comments came after the news that one of the Conservative candidates – Andrea Jenkyns, who is standing for re-election in Boston North West – has been selected as the Conservative’s prospective parliamentary candidate against Labour Shadow Chancellor Ed Balls in the West Yorkshire constituency of Morley and Outwood, where Balls won by a narrow margin at the general election.
Without pre-judging, it would seem hard to represent Lincolnshire adequately if re-elected whilst campaigning to win an important parliamentary seat more than 100 miles away from Boston in 2015.
Such things usually involve moving house to live in the constituency thus being totally available to make one’s mark.
And if re-elected in Lincolnshire, what if victory comes in Yorkshire?
It is not possible to be the servant of two masters.
Councillor Bedford’s assumption that he and his merry minions have been seen to be slaving away on our behalf, might also bear some examination.
Boston Eye has followed almost every full County Council meeting since the last elections – and as you might recall from our reports, questions and comments from “our” councillors – aside from Councillor Newell – have been few and far between, and sometimes irrelevant.
In fact, we were pressed to recall the name of our representative at county hall – and have certainly never heard from him, in the four years since he was elected.
But having said that, neither have we heard from any of our borough representatives.
Apparently, they are now all so important that the only way we learn what they are doing is to read it in the papers!
That, of course, assumes that they do anything worth reporting!
Councillor Bedford has said that he said he welcomes the challenge of UKIP – which comes across as patronising rather than sportsmanlike, and seems quite unlikely as well.
But cryptically, he is quoted by the Standard as saying: “I think a vote for UKIP would be a vote for Labour.”
Surely that is no different than claiming that a vote for the Boston Tory wannabees for County Hall is a vote for the Monster Raving Loony party.
A vote for UKIP is a vote for UKIP.
All Councillor Bedford is doing is trying to scaremonger – but has picked the wrong party to depict as a threat, as at the moment, as we have already said, Labour is considerably more popular that the Conservatives nationally, and UKIP is doing pretty well, too.
Labour tells us on their local party website that their candidates have made contact with “hundreds of people in Boston” and there are five clear issues which local communities feel strongly about:
These are to: Stop buses running through Strait Bargate, bring back a dog warden, clean up the town and waterways, introduce residents’ parking/cheaper car parking, and to stop spitting and drinking in town.”
The party adds: “So on May 2nd you only have one choice if you want these issues tackled and dealt with.”
There is an absence of any promise here which gives us pause for thought.
Not just that, but these are issues of such parish pump status that they are unlikely find their way on to a county agenda.
Most cautious of all was UKIP’s Don Ransome – after whom the party might as well be named in Lincolnshire, as four of the seven local candidates bear the surname – who confined himself to saying that he was delighted to be able to contest all seven Boston seats and hoped to win at least one.
He added “The mood swing on the streets is amazing - we have never been so popular.”
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