As regular readers will know, until very recently, I have been friends with the Labour candidate in the forthcoming Hanover and Elm Grove by-election. Throughout all of that friendship, I’ve always been clear that if she were ever to become a Labour candidate I would blog everything I know about her. Last week, I revealed that she has refused to join a trades union. This week I’m explaining her attitude to politics in general.
It’s worth mentioning that almost every conversation I’ve ever had with Ms Daniel has been about politics. That’s hardly surprising. I’m a political blogger and she instigated her friendship with me as soon as she decided to join the Labour Party, with the ambition of becoming a candidate. She’s been kind (or foolish) enough to invite me over to her house many times, she’s employed me to help redecorate the place, she’s chatted freely.
Every conversation we’ve ever had which involved the knotty subject of international politics has seen her asking me questions and me asking her none. Her knowledge of practically anything to do with the rest of the world is about as uninformed as the average UKIP member, although her politics are rather different.
Every conversation we’ve ever had about the UK’s national politics has seen similarly disinterested. “I’m only interested in local politics,” she has told me on more than one occasion. I’ve protested that local government is a creature of Westminster in this country, that local affairs are dominated by national matters and that all elected party representatives have a duty to understand all the issues because they will inevitably be influential in choosing parliamentary candidates. My protestations have fallen on deaf ears. “I don’t care, I’m just not interested,” she said.
When the subject turned to environmental matters, Ms Daniel’s exclusive approach to subjects she’s not into sharpened considerably. What with me and another member of her household being members of the Green Party, this topic has come up quite a bit. She’s pretty well practised at rolling her eyes during this sort of conversation. Once, she put her hand into a flat palm and vigorously waved it backwards and forwards above her head whilst making a face reminiscent of the cruel impressions from my youth of the estimable Joey Deacon. Doubtless, by that energetic gesturing she wished to indicate that she wasn’t the slightest bit interested. Another time she professed that during a recession no-one would be interested in the environment. More often than not, she adopted the thousand yard stare most commonly associated with soldiers on the Western Front in the First World War or simply left the room.
Having witnessed this carry on so many times, you can imagine my surprise when I saw the policies which she is promoting under Labour’s banner, during this election campaign. You can find them here but for your browsing convenience, here’s the page as it stands right now (before they brush it up by filling in the missing details):
Straight away, you’ll notice that Ms Daniel is associating herself with Labour’s national policies. Odd that, isn’t it? Perhaps she has had an epiphany and realised that whilst we can have local shops for local people, we can’t really have local politics without reference to the other shit that happens in this country. Most probably she didn’t tell the local Labour Party that she wasn’t interested in their schemes for the rest of the country?
Looking at the local policies, I gotta mention that she never mentioned any of these to me in our private conversations. That’s fair enough, of course. She’s perfectly entitled to fight for her party, regardless of what she thinks for herself. To be fair, she never specified her own views to me on local matters either, so it’s probably fair to assume that she didn’t have any particularly strong views on any particular policies. That is a little strange though, for someone who boasts of having worked in “policy”, whatever that means?!
I’m sure we’re all glad that Labour wants to tackle debt by promoting a living wage and credit unions. Caroline Lucas MP and the local Green administration has done much the same, by introducing a living wage for all council staff and by vigorously promoting credit unions. Since this is a two horse race, between the Greens and the Labour tribe, this isn’t really an election issue. There is no dispute and consequently no competition here.
The idea of a Park & Ride service for Brighton & Hove has been kicking around for more decades than anyone cares to remember. Labour has had plenty of chances to make this happen. The reason it hasn’t happened is that no-one can agree about the site for the parking. Proposing it without suggesting any sites at all is a bit like proposing that it’ll never rain on bank holiday weekends every again. It’s a nice idea but it can’t be taken seriously. As an election issue, it is meaningless.
The really exciting proposal is a kitchen waste collection scheme. Presumably, now that Emma Daniel is suddenly interested in an environmental issue, she has realised that such a scheme must run across the entire city or else it will be unfair in its application. It’s a great idea. What’s not to like? Well, she doesn’t seem to have noticed that the thieving Tory bastard government in Westminster is imposing massive cuts on our City Council. Every year more and more cuts are forced on our good citizens. Sure, they want their kitchen waste collected! Who’s going to pay for this? Ms Daniel isn’t proposing that they pay for it themselves. If they were willing to do that, Magpie would have stepped in years ago and run it for them. If the City Council is going to pay for it, how much will it cost and where is the money going to come from?
The only reason Labour can get away with this sort of uncosted pipe dreaming is because this is a by-election. If Emma Daniel is elected, neither she nor the rest of her Labour colleagues (they’re not comrades any more) will be able to implement one jot of this wish list because they will still be the smallest party on the Council, without any power whatsoever. Make no mistake, Emma Daniel is not able to offer anything more than just being a ward councillor.
The fourth policy overlaps with the first one. Is Labour proposing that the Council set up its own credit unions? I confess, I’m not sure about the law in this area. I didn’t realise that local authorities were allowed to set up their own lending institutions? Certainly, there are problems with public authorities lending to businesses in the private sector under EU competition law. The policy is nothing more than a sentence, so we’ve got no detail explaining what precisely is being promoted. Could it be that Labour dashed this stuff off on the back of an envelope? No matter, if it has persuaded Ms Daniel to promote environmental concerns, it should give itself a pat on the back. It may only be a single sentence but everybody’s got to start somewhere.
More affordable homes! How, exactly? In what way does Labour’s policy here differ from the Greens? Without any stated difference, this isn’t an election issue at all.
Oh look, another environmental policy! Bus travel discounts for members in credit unions! After the Labour envelope was handed over to Warren Morgan and Steve “Lord” Bassam for their agreement, did anyone actually think about how badly constructed this is? Who is going to pay for the discount? Not Brighton & Hove buses, that’s for sure. If they were so keen on discounted travel, they wouldn’t have raised their prices recently, and then raised them again, and again… Is the Council going to pay for it Emma? The cash strapped credit unions? How much is it going to cost? Introduce a policy like this and overnight everybody in the City will join a credit union. How many discounts do you anticipate? What’s the point of a policy which cannot be implemented?
None of these are credible election issues. All of them are grandstanding. Standing on the doorsteps of other people’s houses, Emma Daniel will smile sweetly and suggest that she’s one of them. Except she isn’t. In Hanover & Elm Grove the residents are overwhelmingly Green in their lifestyles. Will they be persuaded to vote for a meat eater, converted to Green issues for the convenience of this election, a candidate who cannot cost even the simplest of her own policies?