Opinion: Our rivals behaved like Muppets!

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​Do you remember the Muppet Show? I was a young adult when they first appeared, but it didn’t stop me enjoying the adult orientated humour whilst younger children benefited from the educational aspects of Sesame Street, writes Labour group leader Dennis Jones.

Over the past two weeks, the electors have been subjected to a modern-day version of the Muppets. (You were wondering where I was going with this, weren’t you?)

I grew up in an era where politicians were expected to act like grown-ups, certainly in public. There was no social media in those days, of course, so it was perhaps harder for politicians to make utter fools of themselves so easily. We saw the modern day equivalent of the Muppets played out by our political rivals at the last election. Instead of promoting what they will do if they accede power, they chose to throw stones at those who already had it. Nothing remotely positive, uplifting or life affirming was contained in their campaigns. Whether it was a leaflet or banner or a clip-on social media, your eyes and ears were probably assaulted by negativity as campaigns were conducted in such a manner.

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I will provide you with a couple of examples. Werrington Fields. Each political party wants the same things – as much public access as possible whilst ensuring that pupils at Ken Stimpson school remain safe when using land earmarked for educational use.

Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)
Labour Group leader Dennis Jones (Dogsthorpe)

Whole columns written about Cuckoos Hollow by our current MP, whose wife just happened to be standing in that ward. Councillors writing to suggest they are the ‘only’ people that can get a 5G mast moved. All part and parcel of the rough and tumble of politics you may say. Yes, I agree, although it doesn’t stop me and those who of us are more interested in what candidates have to say for themselves rather than the vitriol, they pour on others from putting my head in my hands.

Then came the election itself. Huge amounts of scarce human resource poured into wards to get candidates over the line at any and every expense. Perhaps one of our current MP’s staunchest allies may not have lost by a handful of votes if more effort had been put into his campaign rather than a fruitless campaign elsewhere.

Which brings me to my final point. Please do not ever think that your vote doesn’t count. At least four wards were decided where the majority was in single figures.

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One thing I truly believe is that good campaigners tend to make good councillors.

I am truly proud of the diligent campaigns from a number of our candidates, engaging people on the doorstep, patiently building information to know who to call upon, when to call on them and what is keeping them awake at night that, as councillors, they might be able to do something about is a much-underrated skill.

These are the people who deserve our vote. The positive campaigner who truly wants to represent their ward and all who live in it not just to be elected to ‘spite’ the opposition. I am truly proud of those candidates who worked hard to get elected making Labour the largest party in Peterborough for over two decades.

I now hear that the current MP and his acolytes are trying to undermine my position as group leader, anything to disrupt. What a terrible shame they didn’t run positive campaigns to give their voters something to believe in instead of behaving like Muppets but without the educational or entertainment value we associate with the originals.