To paraphrase Orson Welles: “Popularity should be no scale for the election of politicians. If it would depend on popularity, Donald Duck and The Muppets would take seats on Lincolnshire County Council and in the House of Commons.”
In the case of The Muppets, we think that this has already happened at County Hall – but the opportunity to bring about change comes up on Thursday with the quadrennial election to replace the entire council.
Just a reminder of the situation as it relates to Boston …:
- There are 32 candidates declared for the six seats up for grabs – one fewer than four years ago due to boundary changes.
- Four division names remain unchanged: Boston Coastal, Boston Rural, Boston South, and Boston West
- Boston East, Boston Fishtoft and Boston North West disappear as ward names.
- Boston North and Skirbeck are new names for the election.
- The Conservatives, Labour and UKIP are fighting every seat – the Greens five, Independents four (three in the same ward) the Lib Dems three, and Lincolnshire Independents two.
More than ever, it is important not only that you vote on Thursday but that you think long and hard about whom you want to represent you.
The size of Lincolnshire County Council has reduced to 70 members from the present 77 – and there is serious talk about changing it from a county to a unitary authority.
This is said to be a big money saver – but it is also important in terms of influence,
Boston is already poorly represented at county level.
There are seven districts – but we will have six councillors … which gets us off to a disproportionate start, and makes it even more important that the councillors who represent us are of the utmost quality.
Sadly, this is not the case at present, and who knows how a unitary authority might be sliced – or stitched – up … as we know from bitter experience how badly Boston is treated by Lincoln.
The public at large are forever being chided for failing to exercise their democratic rights at election time – but sometimes the so-called politicians don’t make it any too easy.
Boston Eye’s division for Lincolnshire County Council is in Skirbeck – one of the new ones.
There are five candidates.
Only three of them had bothered to post election literature through the door by Bank Holiday Monday – and not one had rung the bell to make a pitch for votes.
Is it any wonder that people cannot be bothered to vote for politicians who cannot be bothered to take the trouble to ask them?
Lincolnshire Conservatives have produced a 25-page manifesto – which is a lot of reading unless you are very keen.
Unfortunately the only format that we can find it in online is unsearchable – so we cannot fast forward through it for references to Boston – though we are sure that there are unlikely to be many.
However, there is a way round this …
Lulu.com is a self-publishing service for wannabe authors – but at twelve and a half quid, we don’t somehow seeing this particular item becoming a bestseller.
Nor will we hold our breath waiting for the movie!
At least it’s a try – we could find no comparable manifesto from Lincolnshire Labour or UKIP.
On now to the general election …
The weekend news that UKIP head honcho Paul Nuttall has thrown his hat into the ring for the Boston and Skegness parliamentary seat will doubtless prove interesting if past form is anything to go by.
His bid for the Stoke-on-Trent by-election in February saw him challenged on all sorts of claims ranging from his accommodation arrangements in the constituency to his alleged loss of friends in the Hillsborough disaster.
Indeed, until shortly before his Boston bid was announced it had been reported that he had no plans to seek a seat at Westminster, and party bigwigs had to put his arm up his back to do so.
After his announcement, he pitched up in Boskeg to declare: “It is a great honour and a privilege to stand for UKIP in Boston and Skegness. The constituency voted overwhelmingly for Leave inspired in part by the massive betrayal of our fishing industry by successive Governments …
“… I will make it my mission to stand up for the people of Boston and Skegness and ensure there is no backsliding on Brexit.”
Mr Nuttall will be challenging Conservative MP Matt Warman, to whom UKIP’s 2015 candidate Robin Hunter-Clarke lost to by only 4,336 votes.
But there will be no wailing or gnashing of teeth from Mr RH-C who has declared for the Welsh seat of Pontypridd.
That’s possibly not the case though for local UKIP councillor Victoria Ayling, who days before the announcement of Mr Nuttall’s candidacy tweeted: “I have expressed an interest to fight the seat of Boston and Skegness. Watch this space!!”
Mr Nuttall has since said: “We have a great opportunity there. We've got councillors right across the constituency.
"It voted to leave the European Union by 70% to 30%.
"I think we've got a great chance of running an active campaign and the branch was very keen that I stood in that area."
Perhaps one of the more interesting spins-off will be for Matt Warman.
Given the previous controversies involving Mr Nuttall – plus the fact that he is a national political figure – more media pressure may well head Mr Warman’s way … something that won’t make his job as easy a ride as he might have hoped.
Meanwhile, today is expected to be the day that we will know the identity of the Labour prospective parliamentary candidate.
Unlike previous general elections, the Labour Party National Executive has taken the selection process away from local parties – and instead asked for would-be candidates to submit their applications for the NEC to choose.
However, we are told that after the 2015 election, Labour’s unsuccessful candidate Paul Kenny said he would not be having another crack at parliament, and indicated his preparedness to back Ben Cook in a future election.
Mr Cook is a 28 year-old single parent who works in Boston’s ASDA supermarket and is national chairman for the GMB union’s young members.
We can understand Mr Kenny’s reluctance to try for a fourth time to win Boston and Skegness for Labour.
He stood first after the 2001 general election which saw Labour’s Elaine Bird come within 515 votes of victory with 41.6% of the vote.
The 2005 election saw the Tory majority rise to almost 6,000, and Mr Kenny’s share for Labour dropping to 32%.
Two elections later, he polled just 16.5% of the vote – coming third behind UKIP.
Perhaps then, it was no surprise that local party members may have welcomed the chance to see Mr Cook take on the baton, and they are now said to be upset – in some cases to the point of considering resignation after it emerged that Mr Kenny plans to bid for a fourth time lucky at the polls.
We asked Paul Gleeson, agent for both men at Thursday’s County Council elections and Labour’s group leader on Boston Borough Council, for a comment. He told Boston Eye:
t present I have no idea who the PPC will be, I don't even know if there are any more candidates other than Ben and Paul, applications could have been made from any party member across the country, they were made directly to the NEC and there was no involvement of the local party.
We have lots of new members locally, our membership has more than quadrupled since Jeremy Corbyn became leader and if you include registered supporters, our numbers have increased around 15-fold. We have had another influx of new members since the election was called, with new people joining us every day. I would guess the announcement that Nuttall is to stand in Boston, considering how toxic his campaign will be for the town, will bring in even more new members.
When our candidate is announced I am certain they will have the full support of all the members of the Constituency Party.
Initially, here was some unhappiness both locally and nationally, which I shared, that the NEC had excluded local parties from the longlisting/shortlisting process, however, after that initial concern most of us realised that the timescales involved meant the Party had no other viable option.
We allowed ourself a bit of a smile when we read that former UKIP candidate Robin Hunter-Clarke had resorted to crowd funding to raise money to help run his campaign.
By yesterday morning the appeal – accompanied by a short video – to “oust Labour MP, Owen Smith who voted against triggering Article 50, and wants a second referendum” had raised £251 of its £5,000 target.
But the smile soon vanished when we discovered that Matt Warman was doing the same thing – for no other reason than “to help keep Boston and Skegness Conservative in the 2017 General Election.”
His attempt to raise £5,000 had reached £160 by yesterday morning, as we were finishing off today’s blog.
We’re sure that the Tories would like to retain the seat that they have held since but have to raise an EYE-brow at not only asking supporters to vote, but also to pay for the privilege.
We are pleased to learn that Christmas will hopefully be marked more tangibly this year that it was last, when Boston Borough Council’s feeble stab at festivity drew widespread criticism.
We are told that a couple of enterprising members of the Christmas committee made up of members of the public have been in talks with Johnsons Garden Centre who have offered to provide lighting for the Bargate roundabout for up to eight trees along with a gazebo to house a nativity scene with Joseph, Mary and baby Jesus in a similar form to the existing silhouettes on the roundabout.
What a splendid idea – and let’s hope Worst Street doesn’t rain on the parade as usual.
We also hear that the news has inspired other businesses, with Cammacks leading the idea of a local Bargate traders’ group.
Progress at last.
Talking of Bargate roundabout – whilst we like the new sheep and shepherd tableau, can we hope that someone will level the piles of soil left from their “planting” – as it rather detracts from the ambience.
A while ago, we disclosed a secret letter from Boston Borough Council to local newspaper editors asking them to adopt a good news policy towards the council and the town.
Certainly, if a recent story on the Lincolnshire Live website (the Boston Target in disguise) the plea went unheeded.
The site makes regular use of what are called “stock” photos – sometimes with hilarious effect, such as when a picture suggested that shellfish were caught off Boston using a rod and line, and a section of the town’s riverside was depicted by a shot of the Amazon jungle.
But the recent effort pictured above must surely be a deliberate attempt to portray the town in the worst possible light.
To us, the photo is both offensive and unnecessary – and we wonder how the Target will follow up if it decides to mention the offence of urination.
Finally, we note repeated mentions of the May Fair on the Worst Street website but none of the market.
In previous years, space has been found for at least a token presence for the stallholders who turn up in all weathers but are ousted in the name of fun for one week a year.
Now, though, this appears to have changed as the somewhat ambiguous item on the Worst Street website explains.
Is this the thin end of a wedge?
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