On Thursday this week November 7th there is a local councillor election in the Derby ward in Bootle part of Sefton and part of Merseyside. I grew up in the neighbouring ward in Liverpool and know the area well. It is what used to be called a ‘working class’ area though that term mean nothing anymore, apart from the fact that if a monkey had a Labour red rosette on it would get elected, though a blue rosette would be just as apt.
That is a real shame. Juliet Edgar, someone I have come to know well over the last 9 months or so is standing for election as an independent anti-bedroom tax candidate and quite possibly the first in the country to do that. The people of Bootle need Juliet whom is a good friend and I and all who know here are fortunate to know. Many local people in this ward know Juliet as a leadng part of a grassroots organisation called Reclaim that has helped hundreds of local people to appeal the bedroom tax, to get DHPs, to appeal against JSA sanctions and ESA decisions and so much more. She didn’t embark on this to seek political office or for any other reason; she did it because it needed to be done and that sums up Juliet.
Juliet doesn’t know I have written this and will probably be embarrassed when she does. She probably won’t even recognise my description of her above as a true community champion and someone who works tirelessly to help others less fortunate or even more fortunate. Helping others come naturally to her and is part of her makeup and character, it is innate and entirely natural and this altruism combined with a passion to fight injustices is so needed in politics and especially in a deprived ward in deprived Bootle.
I have done weekly bedroom tax surgeries with Juliet at Reclaim and some other wonderfully dedicated volunteers and I cannot stress just how bloody good she is at finding ways over seemingly intractable problems to get the right solutions. For Juliet and Reclaim staff it just comes naturally and usually after a well deserved cup of tea after yet another jam packed surgery…well there is bugger all else in the area so someone has to do it! Her dedication and resolve and most of all her absolute focus on the poor vulnerable sod who is getting shafted by the system, whether that be in the bedroom tax or sanctions or anything else is inspiring. But then those attributes characterise all the grassroots volunteers at Reclaim who all think it is natural to help others and their responsibility to do so. The wonderful people there are truly inspiring and remind me of the altruistic side of human nature many more once had and showed far more regularly and naturally. Yes they have “Reclaimed’ what we all once did naturally and look after their fellow man and woman and child.
Juliet has no side and no hidden agenda and is too honest to be a politician or at least a member of a mainstream political party. I couldn’t for one second ever imagine Juliet doing a Liam Byrne and not vote against workfare; then again I couldn’t imagine any rational human being doing that. Yet if you ever wanted a councillor or MP who would fight for you and get the job done you would choose Juliet and know you were lucky to have her fight your cause.
Before I get too effusive about Juliet she will not get elected as I say above. That is the loss of the people of Bootle and it is a huge loss too in what is a quite bizarre contest.
There is no Tory candidate. A lady is standing as an independent after failing to get the Tory nomination. There is no Liberal Democrat candidate either though there is an ex Lib Dem councillor who defected to UKIP and if you think that is strange he states in his own bio that he is a semi-professional clown. Honestly you couldn’t make this up! Of course his election leaflet states that 29m Romanians and Bulgarians will be coming to the UK soon despite the fact the combined population of those two countries is only 28 million. Yet since when do politicians pay any regard to truth or fact!
Labour of course blame their inept performance in running Sefton council on the Conservative led national government imposing cuts on them and just as the Tory-led coalition blame the last Labour lot that argument is wearing as thin as the clothes on ……. Labour run Sefton council decided to charge a council tax replacement scheme rate of 20% on those previously who received council tax benefit that was abolished in April. This was up to each local council and the neighbouring Liverpool council set this as 8%. Why you may ask have Sefton council set this at two and a half times the amount of Liverpool? That is down to Sefton residents to ask if they realise and of course Labour is trying to hide that fact – and unsurprisingly none of the other candidates have mentioned it which just goes to show how formulaic candidate selection is and how out of touch all political parties are!
Though the same Sefton residents may want to ask why the Labour Party’s leaflet says their candidate “…has also given the thumbs up to Labour’s pledge to abolish the hated Bedroom Tax.” So this is only a PLEDGE then and not a firm commitment? How interesting!
Those with an eye for detail will recall that Labour took until 17th March before they came out and said they were against the bedroom tax despite the fact the national news media had been a frenzy over this for 6 weeks. Johnny come latelys indeed!
Then Rachel Reeves the newly appointed Labour DWP shadow minister who came over all Cruella de Ville in announcing Labour would be tougher on welfare reform than this coalition proudly boasted on twitter that Labour will repeal the bedroom tax. I asked her when. I asked her to give a date when…as after all it takes a simple HB circular to all local councils to say SI 3040 of 2012 is no longer operative, something they could do on their first day in office, assuming they get there, yet Rachel Reeves refused to answer. Well blow me down with a feather!!
Yes this is the same ‘new’ Labour party which has called for an opposition debate on the bedroom tax next week. And what will that achieve dear reader…well sweet fanny adams is the polite way of saying what it will achieve or in local and I’m sure national vernacular absolutely f*ck all!
The same Labour party leaflet is resplendent with tax issues. They are committed to overturning the millionaire tax cuts, state UKIP (yes the one the semi-professional clown is standing for. Surely it’s not that difficult to get an Equity card these days?) would give a bigger tax cut and of course as I say above the woeful performance of the local Sefton Labour group is down to Tory tax cuts obviously. Strange they don’t mention they tax local residents 20% or 2.5 times more than Liverpool residents get taxed in council tax. And the strap line to the Labour leaflet is “only Labour puts people first” – Do you think that means putting people first in line to the homeless section with their 250% higher council tax than Liverpool residents?
After all wasn’t Sefton, sorry Labour run Sefton, the first council I exposed as deliberately not informing tenants of their absolute legal right of appeal to the bedroom tax decision and in so doing acting unlawfully? Yes the very same Sefton council. And surely it wasn’t the very same Sefton council who are so efficient they can do a review of the bedroom tax decision in 90 seconds too! I don’t have to say just how unlawful this deliberate and knowing practice of Labour run Sefton Council was do I reader? What was that…only Labour puts people first?
Just for comparison reader please do take 3 minutes to read what Juliet and her election agent do for bedroom tax and other welfare victims by comparison here. And when you do you will read about how they helped a poor vulnerable man 200 miles away in Fife…helped him to eat and in fact stay alive…and then ask who puts people first?
Just for the hell of it here’s Juliet’s leaflet…no big PR machine deciding the wording, no candidate restrained from saying anything ‘off-message’, just somebody you would want as your local councillor and be lucky as hell to have as your local MP.