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Lib Dem Dirty Tricks

From Cllr Susan Press

Thursday, 9 February 2012

Janet Battye's campaign team has circulated a leaflet which has just been put through my door.

It is a gross distortion of the truth and one which makes personal allegations about me which are frankly contemptible. So I would like to set the record straight.

It is true I had to stand down as a town council representative on the Friends Of Calder Holmes Park as the meetings clashed with other commitments - and because I had simply taken on too much.

It is also a matter of public record that my attendance record at Hebden Royd Town Council is currently 88 per cent. I chair the Picture House and Community Funding Committees and also serve on the Staffing, Strategy and Review, and Twinning Committees. Since May 2011, I have never missed a Full Council meeting and have attended over 40 committee meetings.

With the help of Town Clerk Jason Boom and other councillors, I have helped drive the project to take Hebden Bridge Picture House into town council ownership.This has meant many extra meetings for all of us.
My Labour colleagues have an exemplary record of commitment to the Town Council. It can not be said of the Liberal Democrats.

Don't take my word for it. Look at the attendance figures.

I believe this leaflet was written and published by Hywel Morgan, election agent for Janet Battye and an unsuccessful candidate for Calder in May 2011. No wonder.

He seems to think a spot of McCarthyite-style language about me being a "left wing extremist" is a real vote-winner. Actually , I'm proud to be a socialist within the Labour Party.

Perhaps someone should tell him being on the left these days is held in rather higher regard than supporting a Party in collusion with the Tories in destroying all the gains created by Labour in 1945. And standing up for people at the mercy of the most right-wing government in my lifetime is nothing to be ashamed of.

From Jenny B

Friday, 10 February 2012

I think the majority of the electorate can research the 'true facts' if interested. Personally, I find it annoying that this forum is being used for electioneering.

From Darren G

Friday, 10 February 2012

Could you please just explain one point Susan, how can you be a Socialist in the Labour party?

I'm glad to hear you are proud to be Socialist.

From Stephen Curry

Friday, 10 February 2012

I haven't seen the Lib Dem leaflet in question yet so I couldn't possibly comment on if it is 'contemptible', slanderous or otherwise.

However, I did see with some distaste a twitter comment on 1st February by this candidate which described the Lib Dems as "lower than vermin" so it is hardly surprising that there is no love lost between these to local parties.

All the parties engage skulduggery to some extent and Labour calling for a Bye Election for the Calder Ward seat to be held on the same day as the Normal Election in May ("to save C Tax payers money") is of that ilk. In reality they don't want to have to fight two elections because they want to save their own money and having to fight two campaigns. I understand that, it simple economics, and you get 2 campaigns for the price of one. But lets not make this out to be an unselfish gesture to the public purse.

A Bye Election on the same day as the normal election will also deny minority parties with a limited number of candidates, and individuals, two opportunities to stand for office.

From Dave M

Friday, 10 February 2012

Jenny, don't you think it would be less interesting without the input of the party politicians? There's a certain Lib Dem who has done a fair bit of electioneering on HebWeb - though he claims to have given up now.

I saw the Lib Dem newsletter that Cllr Press is referring to and I thought it looked rather desperate.

From Cllr Susan Press

Friday, 10 February 2012

Darren, Tony Benn famously said that "the Labour Party has never been a socialist Party but has always had socialists in it."

Whatever one thinks of the previous Government, and I criticised it on plenty of occasions, the NHS was never at risk, our schools and hospitals had billions of pounds in investment, we opened hundreds of SureStart centres across the country and implemented the minimum wage - yes I know it's hardly UTOPIA but a better place surely than where we are now.

Ed Miliband has taken on the bankers, taken on Murdoch and is I think doing a decent job. Which is not to say I agree with everything he says. Labour is also the only Party to be formally linked to the trade unions and wider labour movement.

Stephen, Labour can carry the cost of a by-election - we just don't think the £21,000 or so it will cost Calderdale is money well spent.

Regarding the leaflet, yes, I agree it looked desperate. But calling my commitment to Hebden Royd into question is a serious matter - and I hope Janet Battye will disassociate herself from it.

From Jonathan Timbers

Friday, 10 February 2012

Thankfully, I haven't seen the leaflet, but it sounds crass and obnoxious.

What you won't find on the town council website is a record of Sue's successful mayorality. I believe that she raised over £4,000 for cancer charities.

As to the allegation of political extremism, I think such labelling obscures political debate and is unhelpful. Sue's views are generally (though not entirely) on the left of the Labour Party. After all, she is vice-chair of its most left-wing group, the Labour Representative Committee (LRC).

Personally, I disagree with many of the LRC's policies. For example, its policy on sex workers in my view trivialises the issue and would, if ever implemented, impede those who are trying to tackle the trafficking in women (mainly for prostitution but also for domestic and agricultural work). Its 'policy' on the cuts (i.e. to oppose them all) would, of course, lead to financial crisis and even more redundancies in the private and public sectors. In particular, the proposal to nationalise any company which even threatens redundancy is, to put it mildly, not really credible.

Nevertheless, she is at least prepared to raise difficult issues and to highlight institutional and corporate corruption. We could do with someone like her on the council who is prepared to break the mould. Democrats of all persuasions can support her without necessarily agreeing with all her views or those of the LRC.

From Maureen Brian

Friday, 10 February 2012

If Councillor Press were the only socialist in the local Labour Party then it might be worth all this hot air.

But she is not the only socialist and curiously enough we can work together - well and effectively - with those who got here via the trades unions, the co-operative movement and, even, Harold Wilson's famous Methodism.

We have long since learned to work together with our comrades - even the ones who balk at that form of address - because we know we will achieve more together than we ever will trying to score cheap points or waving banners announcing that "My Pedestal is Bigger than your Pedestal."

The country is learning a horrible lesson about the limitations of a supposed ideology-free government, which is causing more U-turns and taking us farther to the right than I had imagined possible.

Any minute now we'll meet Mussolini coming back and still the trains won't be running properly! Don't knock the minor eccentricities of the Labour Party: you're going to need it and soon.

From Paul D

Friday, 10 February 2012

With the highly respected Nadir's exit to Turkey, I suspect the Lib Dems locally are just rattled about their prospects and this is being reflected in their publicity material. Susan need not get too distracted, she should stand on her own record (which appears admirable), put her own case across to the public and let us decide fact from fiction. The growing hysteria within these Lib Dem leaflets conveys its own message.

And as for a May election disadvantaging the minorty parties, does that mean the Tories won't be putting up candidates again?

From Rev Tony Buglass

Saturday, 11 February 2012

Susan Press - the only socialist in the Labour Party? I doubt it very much. But what the heck does all of that mean? A year or two back I went into the Trades Club, and was introduced by Peter Lazenby to someone as "a good socialist" - I was happy for him to use that label, but I'm never sure whether I am or not. My radicalism comes as much from folk like the prophet Amos as from Marx - you might never have read Amos, but I translated his book from Hebrew when I was at university, and he was a good left-wing radical, fulminating against the rich who were abusing the poor back in Israel in the 8th C BC. He fires me up more than Marx ever did!

My problem with this kind of debate is the way people get labelled. I hated the Thatcher years - I was involved in a lot of stuff arising from the damage caused by her government. I was delighted when Labour booted the Tories out in 1997, and bitterly disappointed with the quasi-Tory policies which followed (if for no other reason, they killed any possibility of singing "Things can only get better" ever again - and it was a half-decent song!). The Blair years were a big disappointment, and the Cameron years promise to be a huge disaster - what else can we expect from a cabinet of millionaires?

However, at local level, I have met some good and decent folk who care for their community. I have a lot of time for Susan Press, and I'd love to see her go further in her political career. I also have a great deal of respect for Nader Fekri, and for John Beacroft Mitchell. The fact that they are Lib Dems is a bit of a problem, given the way the national party has teamed up with Cameron's crew, and so whatever their aim in coalition they share the blame for the right royal screwing the country is receiving at the moment. However, at local level, I know them to be decent and principled folk who really want to do the best for their community.

And that's my problem with this debate. People are being lumped with all sorts of policies which they don't necessarily share, vilified because of certain labels we put on them. I'd like to de-personalise this debate rather more, and not see some of our local folk tarred with brushes they don't really deserve. In May, we'll have a chance to vote for who we want locally - it won't make so very much difference, because there are a bunch of idiots at Westminster who are calling the shots. The bottom line is, we have some good people here in this valley, who are doing what they can to make things better for us. Let's disagree with their ideologies by all means, but let's not beat them up as people - they're doing a lot for us.

Now, if they could just get Cameron and his lot out....

From Jonathan Timbers

Saturday, 11 February 2012

I agree with every single word in Tony's post, except for the stuff about Amos because I've not read that book in the Bible, not even in English, let alone Hebrew!.

On a personal level, I like both Sue and Janet and, for the record, Craig Whitakker is pretty decent too. He emailed me from Singapore last week, where he's on an official visit with the Education Select Committee, to say he'd met an old friend of mine with whom I'd lost contact and he gave me his email address. I'm now back in contact with my friend.

Now Craig knows that I'd never vote for him, but he still took time out to contact me personally. I think that's really thoughtful and I'm disappointed in those who tried to blow up his recent run-in with the police. In a mature democracy, politics should be about issues, policies and ideologies (or 'values' if you prefer the Blairite term), not tittle tattle.

As for Karl Marx, Tony was right not to be inspired by him. His central economic ideas are wrong ('the labour theory of value' and 'the tendency of the rate of profit to decline') and those who claim inspiration from him are wasting their time and ours.

Unlike some, I believe Hebweb is a place to discuss these matters, as well as dog poo, because they concern us all, and I want to hear what other people in town think.

By the way, Tony, on your recommendation, I'll give Amos a go, and sling Ernest Mandel's 'An Introduction to Marxist Economic Thinking' in the recycling bin, where it belongs.

From David Telford

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I'm not down on labels myself. On here I've been labels a Lib Dem and a Tory. I'm neither. I'd admit that I've pretty much agreed with the Coalition's policy of recovery but that doesn't require a label. I also admire what Thatcher achieved and do feel that had she been around 15 years earlier, we'd have never got into the messes that we did.

My gripe with Sue,is that she complains of gross distortion of the truth yet makes allegations on these pages and even rounds off her opening rant a groundless allegation which she then assumes as fact. The meaningless and fact-less claim that (Hywel Morgan's) Party in collusion with the Tories in destroying all the gains created by Labour in 1945. What does that mean? It would help if us mere mortals were told what are all the gains are and how they being destroyed. I can see a lot of Labour disasters that are being addressed.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I was wondering when the local Lib Dem mask would slip and finally it has.

I haven't had their latest Hocus Focus leaflet but I will be deconstructing it when it arrives.

But it seems the word 'extremist' has been used in relation to Cllr Press.

When I think of the loaded word 'extremist' I think of lunatics who fly planes into tower blocks, the Ku Klux Klan or the Taliban.

I don't think being on the left of a democratic socialist (of sorts) party that is Her Majesty's Opposition makes one in way an 'extremist'.

This is the sort of sick dog-whistle politics Karl Rove created for Dubya and has no place in HB.

Sadly the Lib Dems have no shame but the rest of us should feel sorry for them for such a desperate ploy in the face of their probable meltdown in the May elections.

Can Cllr Battye (Calder, majority 53) confirm that she sanctioned this leaflet? If so, I suspect she will lose more than the 53 votes she needs to survive.

From Jenny B

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Jonathan says Unlike some, I believe Hebweb is a place to discuss these matters, as well as dog poo, because they concern us all, and I want to hear what other people in town think.

Well that 'some' seems to be me then? So I will expand:

I don't mind a political debate per se, but find the sniping between the parties often seems to take precedence over what 'other people think'. There is no way of us knowing which views are represented on here as with respect, the Ed has the discretion to select which ones might be too personal; offensive or argumentative to be included or excluded.
Politicians can also find out what local people think by electioneering door to door as they used to. Although, all I have had in the last 10 or so years, has been the occasional pre election leaflet, which has not included the leaflet in question.

Like many Hebdeners I suspect that I vote for the person rather than the party at local level, and as such I find my natural leaning towards the 'old' Liberals at local level has been reinforced by some of the petty backbiting on here.

So there you have it Jonathan thats what I think.

From Graham Barker

Sunday, 12 February 2012

I read Jonathan's post and gave a silent cheer. It was wise, gracious, compassionate, civilised. Maybe the hatchets will now be laid down, I thought.

And then along comes Paul Clarke. Predictably ideological and predictably unpleasant.

Paul, I don't know or care how many people share my view, but you and your childish attitude, and your apparent inability to see the damage it's doing, are one of the reasons why someone who was once a natural supporter of the left now recoils from the prospect of voting Labour.

From Paul Clarke

Sunday, 12 February 2012

Graham, what I find 'childish' is you feel free to issue 'unpleasant' insults but yet again don't address the issue raised in my post.

So to keep it very simple for you: do you think it is healthy for our local political discourse for the Lib Dems to label Cllr Press as an 'extremist'?

I am always very suspicious of self proclaimed men of the left and you use 'ideological' as an insult, but having some sort of ideology at least gives one a consistency that your posts lack. You may not like what I say but at least it is consistent.

I'm not what the 'damage' reference is but I will assume you think I am undermining Labour's vote. Sadly you rather over estimate any influence I may have as in 2011 Labour easily beat the Lib Dems and their latest desperate leaflet suggests they think the same will happen again.

I am quite happy for the hatchet to laid down in the sense that we should have a sensible debate on the issues facing our ward without using using 'childish' and 'unpleasant' terms like extremist.

From Graham Barker

Monday, 13 February 2012

Paul - You seem to inhabit a universe where your word has to be everybody else's command. In this case I'm reasonably happy to oblige.

I'm no legal expert and no LibDem, but having read the leaflet in question I don't see a need for anyone to go crying to teacher. The article 'Labour councillor too busy for park' doesn't actually call Cllr Press an extremist. It calls the LRC extremist, which is not quite the same thing. And it talks specifically about her attendance at Friends of Calder Holmes Park meetings, not council meetings.

Whether all that's deliberately clever or accidentally clever, I've no idea. Generally it seems like fair comment, if expressed with the usual crude insult to the intelligence that is customary in party leaflets, including those from Labour. It's what makes them recycling bin fodder rather than genuine attempts to engage the electorate.

Granted, a piece elsewhere on the leaflet states 'Extremist Labour councillors, led by Labour candidate Susan Press, dismised [sic] proposals to celebrate the Jubilee and Olympics'. But so what? In its context, most people will see it for what it is - a simple intensifier with no terrorist connotations whatsoever.

If Hebden Bridge Labour Party positioned itself as a group of fair-minded people always willing to debate passionately but concede reasonable points, some umbrage might be justified. But pigs will be flying first. You seem happy for what you call the 'political discourse' to be a never-ending slanging match, so you should be relishing the incoming flak. Or is the reality that you like to dish it out, but are too thin-skinned to take it?