Hypocrisy of Labour over my Council Tax survey
If you’re reading this, then the chances are you’ve already seen the tweets about me being asked by the Standards Board to amend one of my leaflets, following a complaint by Councillor Sir Albert Bore. The Standards Board found that “the questions [of my Council tax survey] do not properly reflect the views expressed by the Leader of the Birmingham Labour Party (Councillor Sir Albert Bore)”. Indeed, you may have seen the comments by Labour party activists taking the high moral ground on this issue. This is sheer hypocrisy on their part, which I explain later
First of all, I regret that my leaflet has been found by the Standards Board not to have reflected accurately what Councillor Sir Albert Bore said in the Council chamber. I have always prided myself on publishing leaflets that are both as accurate as possible and written in plain English.
If I am guilty of anything then I believe I am only guilty of putting Councillor Sir Albert Bore’s words into plain English and giving them the interpretation that everyone in the Council chamber understood them to mean. One of Labour’s own Councillors even tweeted from the Council chamber during Cllr Sir Bore’s speech “our beloved leader appeared to say that we would raise Council Tax! Bad move!”
You can see what Councillor Sir Albert Bore said at http://martinmullaney.blogspot.co.uk/2012/03/cllr-sir-albert-bore-believes-bham.html
So what did I put in my leaflet that is incorrect? Well, the wording of one of my questions was slightly wrong:
Question 2: How strongly do you agree with the leader of the Birmingham Labour Party that the present Council tax is too low?
What I should have said, which would have been acceptable to the Standards Board, is:
Question 2: How strongly do you agree with the leader of the Birmingham Labour Party that the present Council tax is “artificially low”?
From my perspective, any reasonable person would consider these two questions to mean exactly the same but from a legal viewpoint they are not.
Now that I have agreed the new wording of the question, I am starting to distribute the amended version of this survey. You can see an internet version of the survey, which is acceptable to the Standards Board, at https://www.surveymonkey.com/s/8VY7R92
So why are all these Labour Party activists who are taking the high moral ground on this issue, being hypocrites? Well here’s a there facts there won’t tell you:
1) Labour Councillors have been found guilty by the Standards Board of far worse deeds in the last 12 months and none of these have been reported. Throughout the year complaints are made against Councillors and, rightly or wrongly, there is an agreement that these complaints are not made public even when the Councillors are found guilty. For example within the past twelve months, I know of two Birmingham Labour Councillors were found guilty by the Standards Board of far worse behaviour than anything I done – indeed I am sure their residents would be horrified if they knew what they did. Has this appeared in the press? No. Am I allowed to tell you who these Councillors are? No. But in my case the Labour Party have breached the agreement and leaked the Standards Board decision on my case. Is any action going to be taken against the Labour Party? No! I hope you can understand why I feel there’s double standards at play here.
2) When is Councillor Sir Albert Bore going to come clean on what exactly he meant in the Council Chamber? It’s all very well the Leader of Birmingham Labour Party using the Standards Board to stop leaflets that are not exactly precise with their wording. BUT wouldn’t it be easier all round if Councillor Bore explained how he believes Council Tax is “artificially low” without it also being “too low”? Why did he say it “could” be raising £70million more per year if he doesn’t think it should be? Remember a Labour Councillor tweeted “our beloved leader appeared to say that we would raise Council Tax! Bad move!” He has so far refused to explain his views on Council tax – would a Labour administration raise Council tax above the rate of inflation? All the Labour Party have said is that they will abide with the present administration’s decision to have a 0% increase in Council in 2012/13. But what about 2013/14? – will Labour then increase Council tax above inflation, as they did year after year from 1999 to 2004?
3) When are the Moseley and Kings Heath Labour going to apologise to local residents about all the fantasy facts they regularly put in their leaflets? Remember, in the past few months alone, they have claimed that the present administration has announced the closure of local libraries, when no such announcement had ever been made. They also claimed it had been announced that Kings Heath Police Station would close completely in the evenings and yet no such announcement has ever been made. The Moseley and Kings Heath Labour are carping at my misfortune, when their own performance on accuracy in leaflets is abysmal.
As I said above, I am not happy that my leaflet has been found not to be as precise in accuracy as I would like – I pride myself in accuracy in my leaflets. But equally I think the Labour Party need to be reminded of the words “pot”, “kettle” and “black” if they think they can make political capital out of this.