Saturday, 27 February 2010

Laura Sandys Shoddy Lack of Opinions

As we get closer to the General Election people's views are firming up. Nationally the opinion polls are closing, and I detect locally people who are critical of some parts of Labour's record, recognising that overall and on the big matters - health, education and the economy it is the best choice.

Many people though vote on other issues, sometimes single issues. Some of these have been contacting local prospective candidates to find out their views. As I have recorded previously South Thanet Conservative Candidate refuses to respond to difficult political questions.

Local people have advised me recently that one issue she finds difficult to address is animal rights. Like David Cameron she comes from a family background which strongly supports fox hunting. Local people writing to her on this issue have had varying responses. One had no response. One advised me that she said she would ask North Thanet Conservative MP Roger Gale. An odd response as Laura Sandys should be able to formulate a view on fox hunting without needing to "phone a friend". Credit to Roger Gale who has taken a clear and prominent line on animal rights over many years.

Like many prospective Conservative candidates Laura is finding the process of the public scrutinising her performance difficult to handle. The League Against Cruel Sports report that

Up and down the country, our supporters have contacted the Prospective Parliamentary Candidates (PPCs) of all parties to seek their view on repeal of the Hunting Act. The responses are forwarded to us, and the current figures show that 69.8% of Conservative PPCs support repeal, as do 5.7% of Liberal Democrat PPCs and less than 1% of Labour PPCs.

But what’s most telling is the language used in the PPC responses. Most argue their point eloquently and effectively, but we’ve noticed a trend amongst some Conservatives to all use exactly the same wording. For instance, we now have twenty Conservative candidates all using the following line:

“I was also struck by the recent comments of Jim Barrington, the former Executive Director of the League Against Cruel Sports, who said…”

The quote itself isn’t important, and anyway, we’ve all heard Mr Barrington’s arguments before. The key point is the very personal comment that “I was struck by…”. Now, we’re not politically naive enough to think that standard responses don’t exist, but we think it’s pretty shoddy that such a personal statement, loaded with feeling, should be used, word for word, by at least twenty candidates.

Now Laura Sandys could clear this matter up easily by acknowledging her error, it should be "A Conservative Central Office researcher was struck by, not I"

Like abortion and the death penalty, fox hunting is an issue of conscience with different views by individuals in every party. So Laura Sandys should as somebody who wants to be a MP have her own views. She should be able to think for herself and formulate her own views.

Every other candidate standing in Thanet is able to do this. Why as the League Against Cruel Sports puts it, is Laura Sandys acting so shoddily?


  1. Mark,

    As the voter who got the 'I'll discuss with my colleague, Roger Gale' over foxhunting I have corresponded fairly regularly with Ms. Sandys and have found a bland question gets a classic Central Office reply but a further contact asking her for evidence is totally ignored.

    I asked for evidence of her statement that local doctors oppose 'walk-in health centres', she failed to produce the evidence.

    I asked her about her various publicity-seeking initiatives that get publicised intially but never surface again, it was 'I'm working busily behind the scenes'.

    I could go on but you get the gist but let me just say this is the would-be politician who said she was saying she was ensuring that 'TDC insist that mains water supply is installed at China Gateway'. Now, I for one never doubted the employees would be able to flush the toilets and be able to wash their hands. Not knowing the difference between 'mains supply' and 'mains drainage' is a rather worrying mistake for a would-be M.P.

    Ask about 'green issues' you get a list of what her father did in the 1950s but not what she advocates.

    I think you get the picture, Mark.

  2. I suppose if I were the Labour Party, or one of its unashamed apologists, as you are, Mark, I wouldhope that people would voteon single issues that are almost unconnected with the real issues of the day. If you honestly think that the majority of voters believe the Labour Party has it righton the economy, health and education you are truly living in a fools paradise.

    Most people I speak to who work within the NHS acknowledge the extra money that has been poured into the service - but are enraged with the level of wasteful spending within the service that has seen far smaller improvements than should have happened with that cash.

    In education the story is identical. Vast swathes of cash poured down on new initiatives, most of which are changed or side stepped before they have any real chance to impact. The most commonly agreed advances, in nursery and Sure Start intervention terms, have been declared successes way before time, it will be a full generation through school before we really know. And some experts are already wondering what that impact will be, and if it will be truly positive, or simply create aidfferent dependent on support generation.

    On the economy? Surely you are having a laugh! As we prepare for any incoming conservative government to play the traditional post war role of mopping up the mess left by a labour administration...even youmust be aware of the disaster that will be inherited. Some are telling us Gordon Brown may screw up his courage and call a 25 March election - could that be to avoid moresets of economic figures? The difficulty in selling the government stock due for the endof March? The inability to quantitavely ease any more inflation by buying them in house as happened last time?

    Perhaps you had better hope the electorate feels fox hunting is more important than the economy, health, and education. If it is so, you might just win, and the voters will get the government they deserve!!!

  3. Chris
    NHS as the soft opinion falls away from the Conservatives you have to resort to half truths. Of course thing scould always be better, but remember you and your friends in the Conservative Party chose to give people 18 month waiting listrs or more, Labour has given them 18 weeks or less.
    I know you've regularly used NHS facilities so you've seen the dozens of new GP practices and wards at QEQM Margate hospital. There is one new building there from the Conservative years - the private ward.
    On schools you've been negligent as a County councillor pouring money into Kent TV, the Turner Centre and a health phone line. The Laboiur government has had to coem with its Building Schools for the Future money to refurbish schools and rebuild them, again there are plenty round the isle of Thanet for you to know the vast improvements there have been. As you know this is a prime area for the Conservatives to cut as it has never been strongly supported.
    On the economy you're intelligent enough to know the crisis came from US banks as most people recognise, and no matter how much you pump out the big lie it does not work. That's why his peers presidents and prime ministers voted Gordon Brown world statesman of the year.

    Finally your decision to not defend in any way Laura Sandys shoddy record speaks volumes, when you cannot come out and tell us about her views and visions and you are one of her top activists then no wonder ordinary voters cannot get an answer from her. When you next see her could you ask
    Manston Airport -for/against or hoping to fence sit?
    China Gateway - for/against or hoping to fence sit?
    there's a list the elctorate would like to know the answers and she is refusing to answer. That's shoddy.

  4. What I find puzzling about Laura Sandys, apart from referring to 'my constituency' on her website, how arrogant is that, is her attempts to leap on any passing bandwagon and then claim any success as her own.

    Take for example the 56 bus route that she, following a single journey, she miraculously saved from the chop despite a long-running campaign by regular users backed by local councillors.

    Or, perhaps, how she saved Cliffsend Post Office and by claiming to have done so, upset those who had been quietly but effectively working for a long time to ensure the village kept its services there.

    Or her arrogance in putting up billboards in fields then denying she knew she needed planning permission that, I note, she's not applied for, yet.

    Or her camapign to stop very large HGVs coming here despite it being her own party's policy.

    Or her total gaffe over the air/sea rescue at Manston.

    Or her letter to the Gazette praising her councillors for voting to stay at Albion House at a meeting she hadn't attended or realising it's her own party that is trying to sell off the assets.

    Or turning up, uninvited at events accompanying Roger Gale and sitting in the front row. I asked Steve to come along to a meeting I had heard about in an official capacity but he insisted he get invited formally as it wasn't the done thing just to turn up.

    Or, more damagingly I feel, her refusal publicly to cooment on the conduct of her party at TDC. Is she distancing herself in case they refuse to back her in the run-up to the election?

  5. Judging by the recent poll (28/2) that shows Mr Brown will still be in charge, Chris Wells is a bit premature with getting prepared for a Cameron government. Have the public at last seen through the tory toffs? They no longer trust Gideon (George to use his commoners name) with the economy after 60 leading economists sent their letter condeming cutting public spending too soon. Cameron's crowd where once the Eton and Oxford set that thought it was fun making themselves vomit as part of the Bullingdon club's rituals. Maybe their chance to make us all sick has gone.

    Mark, as a ps to KCCs wasteful project you left out the £17 million that was being spent on reorganisation of the Highways dept. It seems the money has been spent more on management and systems rather than on keeping the roads and in good order. Roads with a good surface do not develop pot holes. Its rather apparent in bad weather times that KCC Highways with these central depots, have lost the ability to give good local services.

  6. Mark,
    instead of showing a 'Lovely' fox, try showing a headless chicken or three!!!

  7. Anon 19.24
    That's a bit unfair, I know the Tories are panicking a bit but calling them headless chickens would be too harsh.

  8. Hi Mark trying for the third time to give you a comprehensive answer to your diatribe, your security has taken against me again.

    NHS you skate over the fact that the new 'cottage hospital style' GP surgeries,and certainly the poly clinics, break the individual relationships with GP's patients prefer. Also the renogotiation of GP contracts left usall with pickingup the bill for creating new out of hours services, whilst many of our GP's have higher salaries than ever and now only work 4 days per week. And are about to start writing fit notes rather than sick notes, forwhich they are notoccupationally health trained- another expensive stunning own goal by your government.

    It was you who stated last tuesday evening, that after 7 years in control the current tory administration at TDC should no longer blame their ills on the previous labour one,yet here you are harking back to building programmes much older. A sense of hypocrisy comesto mind.

    I will happily tell you my position on these things. Turner an unashamed supporter,which at times has required courage,which is why the labour grouplocally keepschangingits position for short term advantage - as Ioutlined by letter to Your Thanet last week.

    China Gateway - I opposed at full council, which you did not,on the grounds that it should all be built on commercial land, not farmland,and that Acol and water needed protection. I doubt it will ever happen. Shoddy? It was not me or my MP who accepted a donation from a major developer, causingall his party members to declare an interest.

    Health Watch? You cannot understand this unless you understand the manner in which your govt reduced NHS in house scrutiny to the point where it could not spot a pattern of early deaths from infection. Please do go tell those patients families it is unnecessary.

    Kent TV - an experiment that was not worth renewing. When you innovate some things dont work out as planned. That has been recognised, and the decision made.

    Manston? A working regional airport, at peace with its environment and neighbours, with excellent public transport links. I keep talking to both sides to try andachieve this.

    BSF? Kent was at the forefront of making it work, and initially in areas of disadvantage. The myth is that it is all government money (thought whose money does government actually spend?). Kent has had to pay its share, and has done so through developing the empty sites to create the capital required, which has engendered some heat locally. What would you havedone? Put iton the Council Tax? The man who said they favoured a nil rise on Thursday? Boobed again Mark?

    I am sure Laura would agree with some, refine others, and detail far more. As the election approaches the chances to ask will be frequent, though I doubt the 'local liverpudlian' will be highlighting the answer Jonothan Shaw gave him in the house last week, that unemployment in South Thanet was up 30% since 2000.

    PS Highways? Not our greatest success,but actually quietly getting better through innovation such as Members funds giving a little more local control.

    Fingers crossed you get to read this at last!

  9. Chris you say....

    "I am sure Laura would agree with some, refine others, and detail far more"

    No she would not, has not, and you are deluded to suggest she has public opinions on these matters she's been around for a year or more now and keeps avoiding saying what she thinks, hence my post and I note you are unable to refute it.

    Credit to you for giving your opinions. Shame on you that you defend Laura Sandys hiding her views away from examination by local people.

    Not my security just blogspot's system sorry it inconveniences people.

  10. 'Manston has excellent transport links'. Really, one bus an hour during the week. Hardly 'excellent'.

    On the GPs' attitude to drop-in centres, it was Ms. Sandys who put out a scaremongering leaflet in both S. and N. Thanet telling the elderly their doctor's surgeries would be closing. Total rubbish. GPs are ok now with the idea as it leaves their time for the seriously sick and the elderly who tend to need more medical care.

    As one who feels no great link to my GP, fortunately, I'd be happy to go to one of these centres to be seen quickly. My own sons in their respective cities have been able to use the facilities out of hours and get, in one case, anti-biotics and in the other, painkillers thereby relieving their GPs of the need to see them in normal surgery times.

    It seems Ms. Sandys using Lord Ashcroft's funding, has been far too busy putting out scare stories and other nonsense without checking her facts.

    Her latest leaflet is another example of making use of hard-working, non-political activists' success and claiming it as her own.

    Perhaps put to the debate with other candidates her lack of experience will be her undoing.

  11. Interesting that Cameron is now telling candidates NOT to answer questions from the press or complete surveys asking for their opinion on overturning the hunting ban.