Gavin Maclure's Musings

My take on politics locally, nationally and internationally


Ipswich Local Elections 2012 Update: Liberal Democrats leaflet

Finally, the Liberal Democrats have bothered to deliver their election address to the voter, albeit two days before polling day. You could call it a Get Out the Vote leaflet but considering it is blanket-distribution and as they put it through the door of a former Tory councillor and a current Tory councillor (well at least for another 48 hours) it isn’t.

I don’t think the Lib Dems are taking Holywells ward very seriously despite saying on page two of their leaflet that Holywells has only ever had Conservative and Liberal Democrat councillors. I can only remember Tories in Holywells and I’ve been knowledgeable of Ipswich politics for ten years. Last year’s election results saw the Yellow Peril come a distant third in with only 213 votes so I’d suggest they are being a tad optimistic with their rhetoric.

The Lib Dems would seem to have a big problem in attracting people to stand as candidates. Robert Chambers, son of defeated councillor Jane Chambers in last year’s elections, is their Holywells candidate. Next door in Alexandra Ward, her daughter, Catherine Chambers, is the Liberal Democrat candidate. The Chambers are either trying to create an Ipswich political dynasty or the Yellow Peril are desperate for candidates and activists – I bet it’s the latter.

The front-page of the election address – Holywells Ward Focus – promotes the candidate over the party – oh dear, that’s probably lost them a few votes. No one is going to go to the polling station (apart from may be ten people for a completely new candidate) and look for Robert Chambers – if they want to vote Lib Dem (and I suspect only about 200 will again want to) then they will look for the bird. The Yellow Peril really have lost their campaigning touch!

The leaflet is poorly laid out throughout. It’s looks as if it was designed using Microsoft Publisher. I bet they wish they had a graphic designer like local Tory Stephen Ion in their camp who only uses state-of-the art Apple desktop publishing. Better text formatting, rather than inconsistent fonts and spaces in the wrong place, plus more action pictures on the story subjects would be more hard-hitting. Political campaigning is advertising, that’s all.

Putting aside the dreadful text formatting in the middle section of the leaflet where you can’t separate the wood for the trees it is so poorly laid out, the Yellow Peril have included a poster, which majors on both the Party brand and the candidate’s name. A good tactic!

The back-page is just plain dreadful. It makes one’s eyes hurt just trying to read it – and I don’t mean because it has a picture of Andrew Cann. Writing in block capital letters is a school-boy error – it never helps to shout at your electorate! The mixture of stories is confusing – what is the central message? The white text on yellow looks washed out and can’t be easily read. “£45 a Month better off” and “£90 a month better off” (note their difference in case for the word ‘month’ – oh dear!) but better off for who and why??

On a positive note, the Lib Dems have used their mass-distribution leaflet to drum up financial and activist support for their Party. Labour never miss this trick but the Tories did this year (which as the former constituency chairman, I find particularly grating!).

The Lib Dems used to be a campaigning force to be reckoned with but along with their vote their skill-base is draining away as well. Whoever designed and wrote this leaflet needs to be assigned duties elsewhere in the party machine. Not that it matters in Holywells – they will be lucky to beat the Greens into third place!

UPDATE: I have uploaded the front and back of the Liberal Democrats election address to at


Sir Humphrey’s contempt for elected representatives: Part V

The deadline for Ipswich Borough Council to receive objections to the paving over of the dirt track which runs between Gladstone Road and Foxhall Road in Holywells Ward expired yesterday.

Gladstone Road end of current dirt track
I now wait with bated breath for Cllr Phil Smart to confirm if any objections were received to turn an overgrown gravel track into a clean paved footpath for the benefit of residents and visitors to the area alike. 
According to Mark Wedgwood, the officer at the Council in charge of the footpath creation scheme, we are now at the below stage in the process, which was approved by my Committee almost three years ago!

19 April 2012 – (allowed a couple of extra days to allow for late objections)
·         Advertise notice of confirmation
·         Circulate confirmation notice to all interested parties
·         Serve separate notice on adjoining owners referring to compensation
·         Send copy to Ordnance Survey 

On the assumption that we do not receive any objections, the footpath creation order will come into full operation on 19 April. 

Works can then be programmed. 

I hope we can see the first paving slab being laid soon or do we need to trouble Justine Greening??


Ipswich Borough Council Local Elections 2012

The party election addresses have started to drop on my doormat in Holywells Ward. These are meant to be manifestos but the Conservative little leaflet doesn’t really tell us what they would do if they got back into power but rather lists (in a somewhat wordy fashion) what they achieved whilst in office at Ipswich Borough Council. Tax and culture achievements are emphasised, which suggests former Finance Portfolio Holder Cllr John Carnall and former Culture & Leisure chief Cllr Judy Terry wrote the literature.

Pam Stewart, the Holywells candidate, is the headline act on the front of the election address. The Tories have gone again for promoting the candidate above the party. I have never agreed with this tactic as the vast majority of people look for the Conservatives logo and not the candidate’s name on the ballot paper. So if you want people to vote Conservative, it’s best to emphasise Conservatives over the name of someone only a handful of people voting have ever heard of. Mrs Stewart is a new candidate and will only pick up an absolute maximum 50 ‘personal’ votes. Last year Ipswich council Tory Leader Cllr Liz Harsant probably had around 150-200 ‘personal’ votes but she had been leader of the Council for seven years! Needless to say the majority of people voting in Holywells ward last year would never have heard of Liz Harsant but had certainly heard of the Conservative Party.

The leaflet design is professionally produced, which is unsurprising as it is created by a graphic designer, former councillor Stephen Ion, who produces Conservative Party literature at their Headquarters in London. Mr Ion will have offered his services for free and shows how lucky Ipswich Conservatives are to have him on-board.

Cllr Liz Harsant gets a plug in for her blog on the back of the leaflet – could Pam Stewart not have started a blog?

The election address could have majored more on the work Conservative councillors did whilst in office to improve the landscape in the town centre, especially the excellent new Giles Circus scheme, and successfully encouraging Tesco to invest £9 million into the west end of the Waterfront by Grafton Way and Commercial Road, which will be visible over the next couple of years. There is a significant number of Culture & Leisure achievements, whilst important, spread the Tory success story a bit thin.
I also think the leaflet is too small and a larger item through the letterbox would attract more attention – at the end of the day this is about sales and marketing.

All in all it is a professionally produced leaflet which certainly catches the eye but does the busy electorate have time to plough through the text or would bigger pictures in an A4 or A3 format with more emphasis on the Conservative brand pack more of a punch.

I’ve uploaded the leaflet to here.

Tomorrow, I’ll take a look at the Labour election address: The Local Voice.

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Local Elections phoney war starts

Ipswich Conservatives have already started their campaign for the elections to Ipswich Borough Council on 3rd May 2012. On Saturday, I received a leaflet through my door with a collection of stories from around Holywells Ward but the main purpose of the literature was to promote the new Conservative candidate, Pam Stewart, who features prominently on the front page.

Pam Stewart is the wife of Cllr Chris Stewart, who represents Whitton Ward on the Borough Council. I am reliably informed Mrs Stewart is intending to ask a question as a member of the public at a full meeting of Ipswich Borough Council tomorrow, which should be a good indication of the strength she will bring to the Conservative Group if elected.
As a service to my fellow bloggers and all those who are interested I have uploaded both sides of the leaflet to at
I intend to upload all leaflets which land on my doormat between now and polling day to encourage political discussion on the Borough Elections from the various political blogs we are lucky to have in Ipswich. I am sure, collectively, our reports and comment will be far ahead of what will be on offer in the Morning Ipswich Star.