If I believed the comments on my original post, about the despicable, desperate ‘dog whistle’ racist leaflet produced by John Howarth‘s company Public Impact Communications for Reading Labour Party‘s candidate in Church Ward for this years local elections, then I might think I was the only person who though there was something wrong with it.
One of the first people to comment on the leaflet was Reading East’s former Labour MP, Jane Griffiths, here. She highlighted:
this candidate, for Reading Labour in Church ward, was “born and bred” in Reading (she lives in west Reading somewhere) and is “one of us”. the Conservative councillor defending his seat in Church ward? Azam Janjua.
Then we have Conservative councillor for Thames ward and candidate for Mapledurham ward at this years elections, Isobel Balsden, who comments on the leaflet here, saying:
In Church Ward (East Reading) the biggest issue is the hated traffic lights on Shinfield Road. Cllr Azam Janjua’s re-election campaign states under a Conservative administration, if elected, we will put back the roundabouts: This contrasts with Labour’s minority administration’s policy that the traffic lights are here to stay.
Azam lives with his wife in the heart of Church Ward just off Whitley Wood Road. He’s lived in Reading for nearly 50 years. He’s been a councillor for many years and since retiring from being a Hackney Carriage taxi driver he has been a full-time councillor. He is well known in the whole community in Church Ward. He has 3 daughters: the eldest is a local GP, the middle one is a GP in London; the youngest (who got a degree at Worcester College, Oxford University) is a researcher.
In contrast Labour’s candidate lives in West Reading – Tilehurst to be precise. She has no experience of local government. She wasn’t even born when Azam moved to Reading.
Then there is Liberal Democrat former Reading East candidate and former leader of the Liberal Democrat Group, Gareth Epps, who comments on it here. He says:
So why are leaflets being put out by Reading Labour in support of their candidate (who does not live in Church ward) saying that ‘she will fight for us…. because she is one of us’? It’s striking that the equivalent Labour leaflet for Abbey ward promoting Tony Page does not make the same claim. Why does the first line talk about the candidate being ‘born and bred in Reading’? The Labour candidate’s address is listed as being in Tilehurst, in what I think is Norcot ward. Why should Labour only be making this claim in a ward where the incumbent is of Pakistani origin?
Labour has plenty of form when it comes to the seedier side of ‘dog whistle’ politics. In the past they have resorted to deliberate false statements (a criminal offence) on countless occasions. But this really does take the biscuit. It is a deliberate contrast drawn on lines of race alone. I challenge Reading Labour Party to come up with a reason for the contents of this leaflet that is not to pander to racism, to point to the fact that their candidate is white, and the incumbent is not. I wonder whether the procession of senior Labour politicians, from Ed Balls downwards (upwards?) and including several Shadow Cabinet members, have delivered this leaflet or approve of it?
Absolutely shameful and disgusting on Labour’s part.
Then there’s the blog of Conservative councillor for Peppard ward, here, who says:
….some in the local Labour party believe that many voters in Church ward and neighbouring Whitley ward are racist, and this would certainly explain why they have used such dog-whistle tactics. However, the fact that Cllr Azam Janjua has been elected several times in Church ward suggests that the people there have more sense and decency than Labour credits them with. Perhaps they are more offended by the fact that Azam was previously a Labour Councillor and had the sense to defect to the Conservatives.We will certainly be lodging a complaint with the Electoral Returning Officer and the Labour Party agent demanding that Labour apologise and withdraw the offending leaflet.
So, it would seem there is agreement across the political spectrum that Reading Labour Party believe the people of Church to be racist and they are trying to get their support by using racist dog whistle language. They should be ashamed of themselves.