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Labour’s promises and the BNP

April 10, 2008

How reliable are Labour’s promises? That is one of the questions that many Hastings residents will be asking themselves as we approach the Borough elections on 1 May, and as various political letters and leaflets land on the doormat.

If they have not already, I think many people will come to the conclusion that they are not reliable at all.

There are many examples at a national level of the trustworthiness of Labour – the Iraq War being the starkest. But there can be no better example in relation to local issues than the Labour MP, Michael Foster, voting (again) to support the Government’s chaotic and damaging approach to the Post Office network.

[If you want to know what the Lib Dems would do about this, there is a link to our policy in my column of 22 January 2008].

In January I acknowledged Michael’s hard work in respect of the threatened closures. But what value this work, if, at the end of the day, Michael will get into line and vote as the Whips tell him? I believe that he is in acute danger of losing respect in the constituency and being viewed as a New Labour patsy.

But what has this to do with the BNP I hear you ask?

Well you may have read the Observer article about the BNP fielding a record number of candidates for the coming elections. They will be fielding four candidates. And it is no surprise that they will be standing in the four most deprived wards.

Whilst the BNP have the democratic right to do this, let us make no mistake, it is a travesty for Hastings that they believe that they may win electoral success here.

And why do they feel like this? It is my view that they think they will pick up the votes of working people who feel abandoned by Labour. They will focus on the fact that inequality has increased under the Labour Government, and they will, ever so subtly, introduce their ugly racial politics.

It is the Labour Party that must take responsibility for this. And I believe it is from Labour, not the Conservatives, that the BNP will be seeking to take votes on 1 May.

I believe that in order to combat the insidious message of the BNP, mainstream political parties must demonstrate that they have the interests of local people (and most importantly, the interests of the most marginalised and excluded local people) at heart, and that they will deliver for them.

Make no mistake, this is not the forté of the Conservatives.

The Liberal Democrats launched our local manifesto last week, and I gave a summary of it in my column. The fight against poverty remains a key priority for us. We believe in building a society where there is freedom from poverty; freedom from ‘big state’ interference; and freedom to achieve your potential – whatever your background.

The Liberal Democrats stand for the kind of society which celebrates and protects the rights of our minorities because this, in turn, safeguards the rights of all.

And if you want to send a clear message on 1 May that you don’t want the BNP to get a foothold in Hastings, then I urge you to vote for us – the real alternative to the failed Labour and Conservative Councils of recent times.

Give us a chance to show that politics can be done differently.

It’s time for a change.

It’s time for a Lib Dem Council.

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