I don’t know about you but I am sick to death of Jane Dodds, the Liberal Democrat candidate in the Brecon and Radnorshire by-election.
We constituents are being bombarded by her. Leaflet after leaflet comes thudding through our doors.
Campaigner after campaigner has come tramping up to finger our doorbells.
Yesterday (July 13), no less than four different election communications landed on my doorstep.
Two were about Brexit. The first – a letter – said, “As your new MP, I’ll fight to stop Brexit. I’ll work hard every day to stand up for local jobs, our NHS and for the local community services we all depend on.”
How? How, exactly, is she going to do that?
She doesn’t say. She scares local farmers with a warning that the “no-deal” Brexit plans of Boris Johnson and Nigel Farage will saddle them with 40 per cent tariffs on lamb exports – but doesn’t say a single word about how she would stop it, because she can’t. One MP won’t make any difference at all.
In fact, she wouldn’t have to do anything in any case. Current Parliamentary arithmetic makes a “no-deal” Brexit of this kind unlikely to win any support at all, and if any future prime minister tries it, it would probably break their government.
What does she mean by saying she’ll “stand up” for local jobs and community services? That doesn’t imply that she’ll actually do anything – and you’d be a fool to think that she will.
And of course the NHS is a devolved responsibility; the Welsh Assembly has responsibility for it, not Parliament, so Ms Dodds won’t have any influence over it at all.
The second – a leaflet intended to gather voter information (that’s what the coupon at the bottom is for) – is even more misleading. “This by-election is a unique and urgent opportunity to change the direction of our country,” it states.
How is Jane Dodds, a member of a minority party who has lost three elections in Montgomeryshire, going to manage that where so many hundreds of experienced Parliamentarians have failed? She won’t.
If she wins on the basis of this information, then I invite Liberal Democrat voters to come back after October 31 and demonstrate how she stopped Brexit.
The third election communication – another letter – is so full of flannel I thought she was trying to wash me. Or brainwash me, at least.
“I want to do more to tackle injustice, help people to get the best chance in life, and end years and years of being let down by Westminster politicians.” Flannel!
“Living here in Powys, just outside Welshpool, I understand all too well just how important it is that we have an MP who understands the unique challenges we all face.” Flannel – and falsehood. Welshpool isn’t in Brecon and Radnorshire and conditions there are different.
“I love living in Powys but that does not mean I don’t think it can be even better.” Flannel!
“At home and in Westminster, I will fight to fix our broken politics. I will fight to help protect our Welsh health services. And I will fight to stand up for Welsh farmers and businesses.” Flannel!
Worse still is the claim that she has been “overwhelmed by the number of Labour, Plaid and Green supporters who’ve told me that they will be backing me in this election”. I know that Plaid Cymru and the Green Party stood aside to allow Ms Dodds to be the single candidate who unequivocally supports the undemocratic position of cancelling Brexit without referring the decision back to the people of the UK – but Labour hasn’t. For the good of the whole of the UK, Labour won’t.
And while it is entirely likely that some habitual Labour voters have been hoodwinked by the usual Liberal Democrat flannel that a tactical vote for them is the only way to keep out the Tories or the other right-wingers, I think her claim that “many” have done so is stretching credibility to breaking-point.
Finally, the fourth election communication was another leaflet, containing her “positive plan” for Brecon and Radnorshire. Here are the bullet-points:
- “Back our health services and improve social care” – this is a devolved responsibility that is nothing to do with Westminster MPs.
- “Protect vital rural services” – an impossibility for a single MP in a party that is not in government.
- “Oppose Conservative cuts” – a meaningless promise, especially from a member of the party that, in Coalition with the Conservatives, helped impose many of those cuts between 2010 and 2015. That’s the reason I used the image at the top of this piece, warning about people voting for the removal of free health care, free education, affordable housing and social security. As a Liberal Democrat, Ms Dodds belongs to a party that helped push us towards the dismantling of those vital services – and a vote for her now may well help finish the job.
- “Fix our broken politics” – another meaningless promise, and she doesn’t even try to say what this means.
- “Stand up for Welsh farmers and local businesses” – also meaningless, because she does not say what she will do.
The end result is a big pile of waste paper, covered in soundbites. Ms Dodds doesn’t even talk a good fight.
She just fills our homes with meaningless gibberish.
And how will she be if she wins? My bet is, we’ll never hear from her again – at least until the next election.
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Dim gwerth rhech dafad! Welsh has the best put-downs [translation – not worth a sheep’s fart].
An excellent analysis, I do hope you have written to your local papers!