I've lived in Kingsbury for about eighteen months now, in a Labour-held ward (Fryent) in a Labour-held constituency (Brent North). Curiously, on the new boundaries, Fryent is in fact the only Labour-held ward in the new Brent North (three wards are Liberal Democrat, the other five are Conservative - independents who defected from their Party excluded). So naturally, I would expect to hear more from my three councillors and my MP, Barry Gardiner, in an attempt to buttress their support in the ward.
But no, the silence has been fairly deafening. I did get a rather glossy four page A4 leaflet from Barry just before the 'General Election that never was' - on no, we had never considered the possibility of going to the country early, honest we hadn't - but from my councillors, nothing. Until this week...
I returned from Suffolk on Monday to find a lovely glossy A3 folded leaflet from Barry, including a calendar. Very nice, fairly high quality, nice range of pictures of Barry with various elements of the community. A bit light on what he's done since 2005, but not a bad effort.
This evening, I returned home to find a leaflet in my porch. It's a piece of A4 with a letter on the front and a questionnaire on the back, headed 'Fryent Councillors Survey Autumn 2008'. Not a great start that, is it? A closer look is clearly needed, so let's see what you have to say...
As your local Councillors we are writing to seek your help. Over the last few years we have met many of you and our records show that you might have indicated your support for the work we do in the ward on your behalf.
Don't think so, my friends. You haven't knocked on my door, put a leaflet through it to tell me what you've done, and even if you had, I'd hardly indicate my support for you. I'm the Secretary of the local Liberal Democrats... oh, and yes, my wife was a frontbench spokesperson in the House of Lords for the Liberal Democrats and is now Party President. Not obvious supporters, are we? Oh yes, and what work have you done? Oh, I forget, you haven't told me...
We are writing because we need your help with information, so that we can do our job more effectively. Your views are important to us and we would really appreciate a few moments of your time to answer a few questions for us.
And what, pray tell, is your job?...
Why do we need your help? Few people attend our surgeries so gathering information this way will help us represent your views and opinions. It will help us prioritise issues and gives us an indication of what your concerns are. It also indicates were the Council should be trying to improve its services and allocating resources.
Very nice, very indicative that your surgeries are pretty useless. Might that be because you don't run the council?
There follows a set of pictures of the three of you with your names and e-mail addresses underneath. Such a pity that two of you can't actually spell the name of the borough you serve. Brent isn't even that difficult, but if you (Jim and George) want me to write to you at firstname.lastname@example.org and email@example.com respectively, then you're sending me a clear message that you don't care enough to even proof-read a brief letter. Given that Autumn was some time ago, you clearly don't care enough to deliver your missive to me promptly either...
So, let's turn to the questions...
What issues are important to you right now?
Local - list from 1 to 5, 1 being highest priority
- Street Cleaning
- Local GP's
National - tick one
- Cost of Living
Alright, a bit basic, but fair enough...
- Do you use the internet?
- Have you access to e mail?
- Can we contact you using e mail with local information?
- Would you visit a web site if it was just for local information?
- My e mail address is ....
- Would you like to meet us regularly to talk over local issues?
- My phone number is or contact me at home.
- Phone ..... Address .....
- I have a concern but its not mentioned above - tell us more in the space below.
Ah, now all is clear. You don't actually care about my views, you're just making a blatant attempt to harvest contact information, especially e-mail addresses and telephone numbers, probably because you find it so difficult to deliver leaflets. And don't start me on the design qualities of your leaflet, or lack thereof. Oh, but don't worry, I'll be passing the document on to our Borough Organiser, as he needs a good laugh. If he produced something as hopelessly inadequate as this, I'd be wondering about finding a replacement.
If you want to engage with me, tell me what you've done and what you propose to do in the future, but please don't insult my intelligence with such a poor attempt as this. Ah well, at least the Conservatives aren't doing anything here either, so you might just get away with it...