Searching for the online presence of the Labour Party in Walsall can lead to some rather interesting places and some others that are best avoided.
Typing “wclg.org” (Walsall Council Labour Group) into the search engine of your choice will take you first to the east side of Chattanooga, Tennessee and the World’s Church of the Living God. There you can join the flock of Bishop WC Hunter and “learn how walk in a way that pleases God”. If that is not to your taste, move on to Morgantown, West Virginia and have a listen to WCLG-FM, the rock station, featuring a mix of classic and contemporary heavy metal tracks.
If you are able to resist those delights, you will eventually find the Walsall Council Labour Group home page. Go no further; the website offering “first class London escorts” is not advertising 1960`s Ford motorcars and might attract all manner of spam and another crushing right hook from Mrs Hippo.
A trawl through the archives of the Walsall Labour site suggests that it became operational in December 2009 and comprises, in the main, of a series of press releases, a contact list, a policy statement and a few links.
That warrior sage of the northern wastes, Brownhills Bob, recently offered some words of wisdom in his “Living in a one party state” post regarding the absence of an organised political opposition in Walsall. Even a cursory look at the Labour attempt at the internet thingy confirms that Bob is right to be troubled.
The manifesto on the website was written before the May 2010 elections in the days when Gordon Brown’s voice mail was worth hacking into and Building Schools for the Future was still around. The page states that policy is under review but with just a little more than three months to go before the next local elections, there is no evidence of what Labour intend to do about the destruction of vital local services and the vicious attacks on vulnerable people perpetrated by the current shower of incompetents.
The press releases are a noble and worthy attempt to call the current administration to account but fail to score any points by falling into the discredited political trap of “Tory bad – Labour good” tribal rhetoric. Supporters of the Labour Group have complained that press releases are not run by the local printed press citing some sort of conspiracy between the right wing papers and a right wing council. Sadly, the statements that are issued are littered with typing errors and questionable grammar. An example comes from December when, quite rightly concerned about vote rigging in Walsall, the Labour Group issued an “Open letter to Baroness Waris”. Unfortunately, the co-chair of the Conservative Party is called Baroness Warsi. The first sentence demands the “luanch” of an enquiry after the son of a councillor was found “gulity” of electoral fraud. Hacks at the Express & Star might not be familiar with Gillity Village but they understand the value of proof reading and the judicious use of spell check. They probably spiked the story after reading the first line.
The contacts list is a direct lift from the council website and the links take you to the West Midlands Labour Party, the Labour Party nationally, the BBC and Google. No links to the two sitting Labour MPs, left thinking bloggers, local news sites or, indeed, Walsall council. There is no RSS feed, no Twitter feed and no link to the loathsome Facebook. Quite how the Labour Group intends to broadcast its message is a mystery.
The latest Labour statement bellows of a Tory split over education after Mike Bird suddenly realised that Serco are not very good. Given the proclivity of cabinet members to do what they are told, claims of “open divisions” within the ruling elite are ridiculous. Instead of addressing the shocking state of education in Walsall, Labour’s attempt to foist a “yah boo” non-story on sub-editors is both naive and disingenuous and, more worryingly, an indication of how far Labour has lost connection with the electorate. The Labour Group would scream blue murder if anyone dare suggest that the absence of a link to the Valerie Vaz website was a sign of a split within their ranks.
As the coalition government and Walsall cabinet cynically set about destroying society, these should be golden days for an opposition and an opportunity to make hay on a daily basis and win votes. Shrill political dogma, regardless of the provocation, will not save libraries, forests, meals-on-wheels, care centres and other public services and will not fix any potholes. As we all begin to suffer the pain of unnecessary cuts, there could be rich pickings for Labour even in the affluent wards in the east of the borough. The electorate deserve a credible alternative voice.
In the meantime, internet surfers might want to return to Chattanooga and spend just 13 dollars 50 on “From Beginning to End” by Bishop WC Hunter in which he reveals God’s plans for the end of the world. Alternatively, they could tune into Radio WCLG-FM in the hope of hearing “The Final Countdown” by Europe.
The next local elections take place on May 5.