Yesterday, we received a leaflet from the local Conservatives, the first for some time. Now, I live in the hardly-marginal constituency of East Ham and in the even less marginal London Borough of Newham.
The leaflet itself, and I write as no friend of the Conservatives, is a pretty amateurish effort with only one line of attack and that is or are the expenses of the Labour Mayor and Councillors and the expenditure of the Council itself.
Now, there are doubtless legitimate questions to be asked about Councillors’ expenses but my first thought was “Is that the best you can do ?”. Nor was there any iota of a commitment that a Conservative administration in Newham would scrap or reduce these allowances.
Asking questions about how much the Council spends on electricity in its buildings shows that someone knows how to ask a Freedom of Information question but little else. Reducing energy costs in Council buildings is far better achieved through a ruthless quest to source electricity from willing suppliers in a competitive market – one Council has achieved a 40% reduction in its gas and electricity costs by switching supplier – than by turning off a few lights.
Of course, the Conservatives won’t win control of Newham in May and nor will Paul Shea capture the East Ham seat though he’ll probably finish second. The point is that the line of attack is weak and nowhere in the leaflet is there a mention of David Cameron.