A LOCAL election leaflet from the ruling party in Hackney has been roundly criticised. The cover of Labour’s four-page brochure says that the party asked “local residents” what is “great” about the borough.
Two of those pictured, however, are Labour councillors, the man at centre is the Labour Mayor, another is standing for election as a Labour councillor and a woman wears a Labour rosette. You might think it’s like the Tories asking “British residents” what they think of Britain and filling it with the views of David Cameron, Theresa May, William Hague and Michael Gove.
Hackney Conservatives campaigner Amy Gray told Loving Dalston: “This stinks. When is Hackney Labour going to stop treating people like idiots?
“Instead of asking local people what they think, Hackney Labour always thinks it knows best. Perhaps its councillors are too afraid to let residents know who they are.”
Liberal Democrat mayoral candidate Simon de Deney commented: “The fact that Hackney Labour believes it can present its councillors as ordinary members of the public without their being recognised surely shows just how little contact they have with their ward residents?
“It would be impossible to pass off a Liberal Democrat councillor as an anonymous vox pop, as we make sure to build real relationships with our communities.”
Hackney First mayoral candidate Mustafa Korel said it was “laughable that Hackney Labour could not engage with the folk who make up our diverse borough and who are fed up with one party ruling all politics”.
Perhaps, he said, it was one way of giving incumbent mayor Jules Pipe the “I’m an ordinary bloke” look of someone “who is on your side”.
Hackney Labour organiser Tom Dewey denied the leaflet was misleading.
The headline “We asked local residents…” did not imply a random selection, he said, adding: “Everyone pictured is a local resident. Some of the people are members, some are just supporters who agreed to be featured.”
Pictures of other people were available but were not used because of the difficulty of getting explicit permission in time, which was, he said, mandatory when quoting people on political leaflets.
None of the voters shown the leaflet by Loving Dalston recognised Mayor Pipe nor any members of his regime.
One declined to comment but publican Anthony Johns, of Dalston, said: “This is an advertisement and should be seen as such”, a view supported by fellow Dalstoner Alan Darling, who commented: “You’d expect a political party to advertise what it wants the public to know.”
Two graphic designers, both of Clapton, disagreed. Louise French said: “I think it’s not transparent.”
Ruth Pearson said: “It would have been ridiculously easy to ask the general public rather than party loyalists.”
David Altheer 060514
* Elections for Hackney councillors, for Hackney Mayor and for the European Parliament will be held on Thurs 22 May 2014.
* Emboldened underscored words in most cases indicate a hyperlink, a reader service rare among websites. If a link does not work, it is probably because the site to which the URL refers has not been maintained.