David Kuczora plots the turbulent campaign trail to find who will be the first elected mayor for the West Midlands.
Safe to say, last week was a turbulent one in Birmingham Hall Green – at least if you’re Labour or Lib Dem.
The first “face-palm” came from Lib Dem mayoral candidate Beverley Nielsen, who seemed to forget which party she was standing for. Scooped brilliantly by Neil Elkes at the Birmingham Mail (and then followed up by Guido Fawkes), Ms Nielsen’s activists in Hall Green pushed leaflets through letterboxes offering “3 reasons to back Beverley Nielsen for West Midlands Labour Mayor.” Perhaps the five years in coalition have made the Lib Dems used to lining up with more popular parties?
Ms Nielsen was quick to make light of the matter on Twitter. The mistake was apparently a genuine typo of a snow-blind volunteer, so nobody’s getting sacked for it. The blunder was blamed on the Lib Dems “federal” system. Each constituency organisation can throw together their own literature, print it, then stick it through letterboxes without anyone at Lib Dem HQ (or even Ms Nielsen herself) getting a cursory glance beforehand. Now that’s all well and good for encouraging local groups to talk about the issues that really matter. Were a local council candidate to make such a mistake it probably wouldn’t have garnered much media attention. But this is a job interview which comes with a budget of billions to spend. It’s little details like this which should make you ask if this is the political party who should be allowed to take responsibility for it.
And onto our second foul-up of the week; another candidate in Birmingham Hall Green – this time the local council candidate for Labour. The party currently holds all three council seats in Hall Green, and has dutifully returned a Labour MP since 1997. However, before the rose-tinted Blair days, it was Tory-held in Parliament. And, since the constituency was created in 1950. Swings away from Labour, such as in Copeland, mean it’s not beyond being taken back by the Tories.
But step forward Labour candidate Alison Gove-Humphries who, as the Birmingham Mail describes, is “a keen supporter of party leader Jeremy Corbyn.” If that weren’t enough to turn the voters off, her Facebook sharing habits certainly should. Scooped by Guido, this charming lady has shared a litany of anti-Semitic posts promoting bonkers conspiracy theories around Israel selling oil smuggled by ISIS terrorists amongst others. Lovely.
Which brings me around to a Conservative council hopeful standing in a marginal seat in Birmingham currently. He asked me the other day “what are your tips for winning?” My advice was simple: put your back into it, listen to the residents you’re pitching to represent and last – but by no means least – don’t do or say anything stupid. When put like that, how can anyone get it wrong?