For ages it felt like we were ignored around here. Few leaflets, and just the odd poster — no less than three from the Lib Dems, and one from UKIP in Kirkcaldy. It is a very safe Labour seat, so it’s not really surprising. But at last, a pile of leaflets have landed on the doormat in the past couple of days.
(Update: What is interesting is that none of the parties seem to have mentioned the environment at all. I would have thought that, with the Greens not standing here, somebody would have at least mentioned it.)
UK Independence Party #1
UKIP were first off the mark by a long way. This leaflet came ages ago. I think it actually came before Parliament was even dissolved. This is probably the same leaflet that goes through doors across the whole of the UK. No mention of their candidate whatsoever. The front of it blazes, “Why does Britain subsidise Europe? – our pensioners should come first!”
There is a very poor cartoon on the front. The drawings of the three main party leaders are rubbish. The cartoonist has tried to give Michael Howard fangs, but he’s drawn it square so it just looks like a buck tooth! Your everyday pensioners stand shivering on the sidelines. The man has a copy of The Sun sticking out of his jacket (not The Daily Express?), while the woman has a pension book sticking out of hers (???) and a novelty Union Jack under her arm (???).
Nothing incredible on the back; the sort of thing you would expect. I’ve already blogged about their odd promise to “scrap political correctness” though.
The SNP seem particularly keen to capitalise on their position as the party most likely to beat Labour in Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath. We’ve had three leaflets from them so far. Two of them are single-issue leaflets.
“ID cards won’t catch criminals; more police will.” Hits the message home. Not much to tell it apart from a hypothetical Lib Dem leaflet though, apart from perhaps stronger language (eg. “Blair’s Big Brother tactics”) and a mention of independence right near the bottom.
Very similar to the first one. This time a man is looking up at a falling anvil labelled “COUNCIL TAX”. It’s like a really bad newspaper cartoon.
Scottish Labour #1
This one definitely packs the more issues in than the rest.
On the front there is a photo of Gordon Brown looking somehow cleaner than usual. Maybe he’s been investing in nice new Mach 3 razors. Here is the condensed blurb: “Hullo. My family’s roots are in Fife. Fife Fife Fife, for the past 22 years. Chancellor! NHS! Pensioners! Your priorities are Labour’s priorities.”
A list of Labour’s achievements. Mostly they are reserved issues — I had expected Labour to be banging on about health and education, but that’s not so much the case. Mostly they are about the economy, emphasising this particular candidate’s achievements in the Westminster cabinet. There’s a big bit on world poverty aswell, with Gordon Brown sitting there looking like Nelson Mandela’s best mate.
Scottish Labour #2
Aaaargh! This one is a lot scarier! Twice the size, this one has a massive A5-sized picture of Gordon Brown on the front. And what a terrible photograph it is. That’s shoddy, because when you look carefully, you see that his hair has been gelled into place (presumably) and he’s been painted with make-up. But this is the problem! That lipstick makes him look like my gran! Oh no, it’s awful.
Inside: “Gordon’s roots are firmly in Fife. Kirkcaldy High! Edinburgh University! Lecturer! STV journalist! Senior cabinet posts! Chancellor! Wee baby! Raith Rovers!” There’s a list of priorities, identical to the previous leaflet, right down to the bit where ‘1997’ is mis-typed as ‘l997’.
As for all the hoo-ha over how many Labour candidates are putting Tony Blair on their leaflets — well, Tony takes pride of place right in the centre here.
Ah, it’s all folded up. Big bold blue Impact: “WHO SHOULD BE YOUR NEXT MP?” Turn over, and there is just a massive question mark. The answer must be inside.
All those exclamation marks weren’t there, but it gives the same effect of the size of that name, Randall. Randall who? Unfold again. Ah, Stuart Randall! Who? Councillor Stuart Randall!
Cllr Stuart Randall campaigned 3 years for a new crossing and dropped kerbs.
What a sadact! Isn’t there a better way to spend three years? More seriously though, the main issue of this leaflet is “Labour Downgrades Local Hospitals”. With the local Victoria Hospital apparently under threat, this is a good local issue for the Conservatives to be concentrating on. They still don’t have a chance.
Scottish Socialist Party
The usual type of blurb about SSP candidate Steve West on the front. What always matters about SSP leaflets is the back though!
Their humorous style of negative campaigning brings a bit of character into Scottish politics. Their PEB last week was a prime example of it. After going on about school dinners for a bit, all of a sudden, this: “…and there’s another thing the main parties have been feeding us — mince!”
On this leaflet, we have a fill-in questionnaire, with a red box for ‘yes’, a blue box for ‘no’ and a yellow box for ‘don’t know’. You can probably see what’s coming. “Do our pensioners deserve a Â£160 basic state pension, index-linked to earnings? Yes / No / Don’t know.” And so on. At the bottom we’re told that if you ticked mainly blue boxes you should “stick with one of the two Tory parties.” Yellow boxes? “You’re stuck in the middle — so vote for one of the fearty parties, the Lib Dems or the SNP.” Mainly red boxes? You’re a dangerous extremist Trot! Oh, and vote SSP!
Scottish Senior Citizens’ Unity Party
Those senior citizens had better still have their own teeth if they support the party with the most tongue-twistery name ever.
Our manifesto is as simple as A – B – C.
- Abolish poverty for Senior Citizens by increasing the basic state pension to Â£160 per week, for men and women, with the link to earnings restored.
- Banish the degrading and humiliating means testing system.
- Council Tax to be replaced by a fairer Local Income Tax.
A bit like the SSP then, but with a bit of good old-fashioned homophobia thrown in for good measure.
Scottish Liberal Democrats
Unfolded, this leaflet looks awful. There is a blurry photo of Charles Kennedy, badly photoshopped onto a background of the Saltire. At the top, “freedom. fairness. trust.” in funny colours so that you can barely see it. It really does look terrible.
Luckily, the inside is much better looking. A wee letter from Alex Cole-Hamilton. He’s familiar — he beat the Tories into third place at the Scottish Parliament elections. I don’t expect that feat to be emulated this time around. The new constituency now contains not only the ‘Little Moscows’ — areas which gave the Communists their few MPs in the 1950s — but also the (apparently) heavily Conservative Dalgety Bay.
Back to the leaflet though. “The Real Opposition [ahem, except in Holyrood]”, etc. A good photo of the man himself standing in what looks like Dysart harbour — a nice spot! Alex’s priorities, we are told, also include “a fully operational and well-resourced Victoria Hospital,” as well as more police, fair pensions and an end to third world debt. Lots more bullet points all over the place; nothing too surprising.
This one actually focuses quite heavily on independence. That is what the main blurb is pretty much all about. In case anybody needed convincing (!!!), there is a handy list of “5 reasons Independence will be good for you and your family.” It lists the fact that “we’ll get our own voice in the world… Free to get rid of nuclear weapons. And free to give more aid to the poorest nations.” Number 2: decent pensions; 3: fair taxes; 4: oil wealth; 5: no ID cards, more police.
That’s all very well, but the only one of those that would be a consequence of independence per se would be number 4. The rest are all as likely within the Union as far as I can see. Scotland is just one big Labour rotten borough really — we’re far less likely to get rid of New Labour than the UK as a whole is.
The candidate’s message informs us that the SNP are campaigning alongside Save the Scottish Regiments, who pulled out earlier in the campaign.
This time we get a locally-produced leaflet. The same cartoon makes an appearance, but The Sun has been replaced with “Council tax final demand.” Who goes around with that in their pocket?!
Inside we are informed that “Only 10% of all UK trade is exported to the EU.” Er yeah. What percentage of exports go to the EU though?
On the back there is a really scary looking guy. He reminds me of this guy who appeared in dodgy ITV sitcoms in the 1990s. The guy with the moustache.
“UKIPScotland is also committed to… Saving the Scottish Regiments…” I thought that was the SNP! How confusing!… Nothing of real note in this one though.
Update (1st May):
Scottish Conservatives #2
Just got a couple more through the letterbox from the Conservatives today. One is a cheap home-made newsletter type thing. It’s called Forth Right which I think is quite witty — it made me laugh anyway…
What’s remarkable about Stuart Randall’s stuff is that it barely mentions the same key issues of Michael Howard’s national campaign. We get the ten words at the bottom, and “Are you thinking what we’re thinking?”, but that’s it. It does mention council tax (and National Insurance) and more police. But almost as much space is given to Randall’s view on the smoking ban. “Vote Tory for a sensible compromise,” and sensible it is — for once.
Only two men can realistically become PM at the general election: Tony Blair or Michael Howard
Avoids the fact that for Stuart Randall to have a realistic chance of getting elected here it would require the immediate annihilation of both Labour and the SNP.
The best things about this one, though, are the killer quotes from former Labour representatives. “Things were better under the Tories,” said ex Labour MEP Alex Falconer.
Scottish Conservatives #3
Glossy, but nothing that you wouldn’t have read on the previous two. In these three leaflets, the phrase “Labour and their Lib Dem friends,” or words to those effect, must have been used five or six times.
Update (3rd May):
At last, a leaflet from one of the independent candidates! Pat Sargent is standing on the single issue of “honesty and trust for pensions”. On her picture she looks like a hippy granny.
This surely splits the old fogeys vote, with the SSCUP standing on what sound like very similar issues to me. My mother assures me that they are different, but I frankly can’t be arsed to work it out.
No word from the other independent, Elizabeth Kwantes, yet.