Friday, August 15, 2008

Labour source: "Vindictive" Lakenham campaign run by UKIP

Although I am fairly sure that both Keith Driver and Mary Cannell are pretty zen about the latest batch of "Spotlight" leaflets doing the rounds in Lakenham slamming the performace of the Labour council and government (see my post below), it seems that Labour high command are less satisfied with them and it seems an all-out witch-hunt is now underway to find the culprits. As the leaflets are anonymous and carry no imprint, they may struggle.

But I am now told by a very senior Labour source that they now strongly believe it to be the work of UKIP; or at least individuals within UKIP anyway with or without party permission. Let's be clear; I'm not aware they've done anything illegal but Labour are clearly spooked by this method of campaigning.

The answer may lie in a conversation I was having with a fellow (non-Tory) Councillor this week. If the county elections go ahead as planned next year, then Lakenham will be one of a number of crucial seats for Labour in Norwich. If the county elections follow the pattern of city elections, the Labour group at county could be heading for wipeout and third place on the council. Don't forget Labour currently hold the county divisions of Wensum (now solidly Green at City level), Mancroft (ditto), Bowthorpe (all 3 City seats are now Tory held) and Catton Grove (where the Conservatives hold 2 of the 3 City seats). So, what's special about Lakenham? Firstly it is the seat of their County Leader Sue Whittaker but secondly it was won by the LibDems last May with a half decent majority. Whittaker may look rather nervously at all this - UKIP may be no electoral threat, but their anti-Labour campaigning could tilt the electoral wind against her. So for the health of the Labour Party in Norfolk, the "vindictive" leaflet is keeping some at Labour HQ awake at night.

UPDATE: Of course! A friend reminds me ... whenever Labout elect a leader at county hall there is the usual debate about which urban area the leader comes from - Norwich, KL or Yarmouth. Norwich Labour are very determined that they should provide, as the county capital, the leadership and the City were thrilled when Whittaker got the job from Kings Lynn North & Central Councillor Irene MacDonald a while back. If Whittaker loses her seat, Norwich Labour are concerned that the top job would revert to a non-Norwich Labour Councillor within just a few years of them having obtained it. The obvious successor to Sue Whittaker is Bowthorpe's Gail Harris ... but given the drubbing Brenda Ferris got in Bowthorpe in '08 you wouldn't bet on Harris holding on either. So Norwich Labour are fighting for Whittaker to hold on for more than just party pride - they are doing it for city pride too. Mind you, the Labour Group at County post-2009 may not be worth leading!


Anonymous said...

County elections 2009 - bring it on....

Anonymous said...

Whilst i appreciate that what you say on your blog and what you actually believe may not be the same i am amazed but your ability to over estimate your partys position.Dont get too complacent darling you may end up with egg on your that i would love to see