The Plastic Hippo

January 24, 2011

Love`s Labour`s Lost

Filed under: Politics,Walsall — theplastichippo @ 11:30 am

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 “” (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.


  1. Comrade, don’t take this personal, but….

    I have some sympathy for Tim Oliver. The Labour Group in Walsall was split in half by the ‘troubles’ in the mid 90’s and they have never properly recovered. Tim is trying to build a house on no foundations. It isn’t the Labour Group that is the problem, but the party. People like yourself, Brownhills Bob and a good many more people I know in Walsall are articulate, intelligent left-leaning folk, but are you Labour members? Have you tried to join, get selected to run for Council, put your obvious talents to work for the people of Walsall?

    I know it’s not for everyone, some people, myself included actually, are not ‘joiners’ by nature. But criticising Labour for not stopping the brutality being meted out by this government and your incompetent Council can ring a bit hollow when you don’t actually chip in and have a go yourself.

    Comment by Bob Piper — January 24, 2011 @ 12:35 pm | Reply

    • Sort of see where you are coming from Bob, but does it really take 15 years to rebuild something?

      Comment by Andrew — January 24, 2011 @ 2:34 pm | Reply

      • Longer…. much longer if no-one is doing the building.

        Comment by Bob Piper — January 24, 2011 @ 4:12 pm

    • With all due respect Cllr Piper, and I mean that, it seems to me that the Plastic Hippo is ‘chipping in’ very nicely by simply producing this engaging, provocative and intelligent blog although I can’t deny that the idea of a Walsall Mayor dressed as a pink Hippo would probably go down very well with the local electorate.

      Comment by John — January 24, 2011 @ 4:38 pm | Reply

      • from I understand though and I could be corrected on this, but the main parties are now very careful who blog and who do not.

        Ian Shires produces the most content but a lot of LD recycled material and the lack of comments on the budget from anyone is striking.

        Comment by ianrobo — January 24, 2011 @ 7:51 pm

  2. […] least they are doing something. I’ve had a bit of a go today about one of my favourite blogs. The Plastic Hippo is bemoaning the performance of the Labour opposition in Walsall. I have no doubt some of the […]

    Pingback by Come writers and critics who prophesise with your pen… | Councillor Bob Piper — January 24, 2011 @ 1:22 pm | Reply

  3. It’s not just the Labour group to be fair: there’s very little political web presence in Walsall.

    As to joining up and doing something? I couldn’t. I’m not a talker or a “joiner” and I think I’d just get frustrated with all the bollocks, quite frankly. I’m pretty much disillusioned with all politics: I’m left-leaning by preference, and still believe that whatever you think of the problems with the last goverment, this one will be far, far, worse, but feel there needs to be something better. What is a little harder to work out.

    I think it’s best left to people who do have an enthusiasm for it. Mike Flower, for example, does a pretty good job, if only he wasn’t a tory eh?

    Comment by stymaster — January 24, 2011 @ 1:34 pm | Reply

  4. The problem with Walsall Labour is frankly we are disjointed. Little binds us between say Pheasey and Darlaston or Walsall Wood or Pleck branches.

    Birmingham for example does not have this problem, the party there is one huge party with what seems from the outside a unified sense of purpose.

    Part of the problems of Walsall labour mirror the whole town don’t they ?

    Comment by ianrobo — January 24, 2011 @ 3:07 pm | Reply

  5. In criticising the new site you have picked out minor problems such as the URL and some spelling mistakes. Well, they can be rectified.
    As for the press releases going back to 2009, isn’t that evidence that the party has been addressing its message to the local mainstream media?
    A mainstream media, whose weekly readership is in the hundreds of thousands; a lot more that any local blogger can claim!

    The ‘rhetoric’ or style you attack is deliberately tabloid, and your criticism shows a misunderstanding of press releases aimed at the local press; which, whatever its faults, is still the main source of news for most people.
    Press releases are about getting out messages to journalists in a short, concise manner. So to compare blog postings and press releases is not simply comparing like.

    Comment by themushroom — January 24, 2011 @ 3:18 pm | Reply

  6. I think you are being very unfair with your criticisms of the Walsall Labour site which provides some very useful local hyperlinks. Google in particular seems like a very promising resource and I am sure it will become quite popular once people get to know about it. I would have left a message of thanks on the Walsall Labour site but I couldn’t find the comments or feedback section.

    Comment by John — January 24, 2011 @ 6:28 pm | Reply

  7. Oh dear me.

    First off, a tip of the Brownhills bowler to the Hippo for bigging me up there. Thanks. I didn’t write what I did to be a bastard, I did it because it’s causing me concern and dismay.

    Much as I appreciate the calls for understanding and sympathy, I’m not looking for a basket case to support, I’m looking for a cohesive political challenger to the current Walsallian status quo. A status quo that is dismantling everything this town stands for.

    If the local left can’t unite through this cause, we’re up shit creek, frankly. Do we really have to tell our kids in a decade from now that we would have stopped it but there were far too many delicate egos down in the local Labour group, so we let it all go down without a peep?

    Sort yourselves out. Get a decent site – a WordPress blog does it all for you, it’s free to boot – you only have to type. Use tags, categories. Get the message out. I’ve already offered to help with a blog. Such a site would give you RSS, Facebook and Twitter integration. You could be whipping the backside of the tories over social media instead of grumbling.

    Get your act together, otherwise my vote is wasted.

    Best wishes


    Comment by BrownhillsBob — January 25, 2011 @ 11:54 pm | Reply

  8. to be fair to the local lefties though, the tories aren’t exactly a force to be reconed with, are they?
    Mad Mike hasn’t got a clue what to do – his style is to wait for something to happen and then say it isn’t his fault or wait to see what the E&S wants, and then claim he’s doing it.
    However, you are quite right, an organised labour party would wipe the floor with him/them and it is a lost opportunity.
    But perhaps we should reflect on the thought that we get the politicians we deserve and maybe we should all do a bit more about it than tap away at our keyboards….

    Comment by martin — January 27, 2011 @ 2:54 pm | Reply

    • It is frustrating a little because Bird is an easy target and when Oliver was on WM with him did very well so why not ?

      Comment by ianrobo — January 27, 2011 @ 7:56 pm | Reply

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