One of the strange aspects of the current General Election campaign has been the almost total lack of analysis about the local impact of key government policies.
Those who were most vocal about BREXIT, climate change, the NHS and poverty have struggled to put their case into a local context.
The once powerful and
independent print media in York have lamely given candidates a few hundred
words to put across – what turned out to be – largely anodyne “policies”.
Gone is the local forensic analysis of candidate’s qualities.
Local political differences go largely unreported. In depth factual analysis is
The Press is reduced to commenting on the number of leaflets
being delivered by candidates, a fake issue created by politicians too lazy to
deliver their own messages.
The print media decline is largely, of course, down to a decline in the resources available to local newspapers. The Yorkshire Post is an exception, but it covers a large and diverse area.
Many have switched to unregulated social media channels for information. Even there we recently saw one party try to pass itself of as a (entirely bugus) “fact checker” while others bombard the internet with fake news. Extremists have subtlety sought to take over local organisations to use them as a front for their views.
Anti BREXI groups have been infilrated as have so called “independent”
tactical voting web sites.
Part of the problem may relate to the timing of the election.
Mid-winter is not an ideal time to go canvassing.
But the candidates must also take some of the blame.
In York Central several
appear to be auditioning for a part in the next Harry Potter film.
The one featuring a “cloak of invisibility”.
York central MP Hugh Bayley has been rated at 607 on a new web site which seeks to measure the effectiveness of MPs.
Hugh Bayley under fire
There are 650 MPs in the House of Commons.
The site looks at the number of votes the MP got in the last election and compares this with salary and other costs as well as the number of times that the MP voted in the Commons.
Hugh Bayley is towards the bottom of the list with a cost of £1,818 per vote
Hugh Bayley’s office costs are significantly higher than average while he voted in less than half the divisions called in parliament.
York Outer MP Julian Sturdy is ranked at 18 (close to the top of the list)
The list isn’t perfect, of course, with those MPs, for example, representing Highland and Northern Ireland constituencies inevitably having the highest travel expenses.
No attempt is made by the web site to measure the effectiveness of the MP at constituency level although there is an opportunity for residents to “rate” their MP.
Another web site has been launched which will list all public meetings at which local parliamentary candidates share a platform
A leaked list of “non target” seats by Conservative Central Office reveals that they are not targeting a win in York Central.
Boost for local candidate Nick Love
At the last general election the Tories were neck and neck with the LibDems with both parties needing to persuade only around 3500 Labour voters to change sides to achieve a victory.
Since then, Labour in York have been overwhelmed by controversy and the sitting MP has announced that he is standing down. Only 3 months before the poll, Labour have still to announce who their candidate will be.
Some eyebrows were raised a few months ago when the Conservatives selected a London based man to be their candidate.
It seems that the local Tories have decided to concentrate their resources on holding the York Outer seat
The Tory move leaves the way open for Liberal Democrat and local man Nick Love (@NickLovesYork) to establish himself as the main non-left ballot paper option.
A full list of the seats which the Tories don’t think they can win can be accessed by clicking here
It looks like Hugh Bayley’s replacement, as a Labour candidate to be the City’s MP, will be a Trades Union official who is based in London.
Speculation had mounted, that an outsider would be parachuted into the York Central constituency, when Labour decided to impose an “all woman” shortlist on its members.
Amongst those vying for support is understood to be a senior UNITE trades union official with a specialist interest in the health services.
Labour is heavily dependant on Unions like UNITE for its funding.
The Tories have already selected a London based man to be their candidate.
This leaves LibDem Nick Love @NickLovesYork as the only York resident selected as a candidate for the contest by any of the major parties.