This week I received the first election address from the Reading East Labour candidate. In it the claim is made that the £800m+ Network Rail scheme to increase capacity at Reading Station is “under threat from the Tories”. This is completely and totally untrue, as the Labour candidate would know if she had lived in Reading for longer.
This is only the latest in a long line of lies that Labour has been peddling to the people of Reading in a desperate attempt to cling on to its precarious status as the largest party in a hung Council. Tonight in the town centre Abbey ward a member of the public approached us as we were door knocking and asked if it is true that local Conservatives plan to scrap all the night buses and sell off the Council-owned bus company. As Transport spokesman I was happy to reassure him that neither was true and I pointed to the specific pledge made that we would keep the bus company in Council ownership. When I asked him how he had gained the impression, he told us that a Labour canvasser had knocked on his door and when he said he was undecided they had told him a whole series of tales about how Conservatives would scrap services including the night buses. When we finished the conversation he was happy to pledge his vote to us, in disgust at the Labour tactics.
We have also met people who have said that a Labour canvasser claimed we would close care homes for the elderly, scrap free bus passes for pensioners and build on open spaces such as Kennet Meadows – all of which are untrue. It is very sad and quite despicable that a party aspiring to continue to run our town has so little left to say that it will resort to lies, smears and scare tactics. It suggests that Labour have learned nothing from the Damien McBride scandal.
Over the weekend I spoke to one of my Labour sources who told me that Reading Labour party candidates and Councillors are divided into two camps. There are those who are in a flat panic about losing and are running around working very hard delivering and door knocking but that the majority believe that their time is up and have all but given up. My source said that residents who until recently had put up Labour posters have this time not responded to requests or have just said no. Labour are struggling to motivate their own supporters and clearly believe that conjuring up fictional Tory scares stories may just get some of their former core vote out on 6th May.
From the response I have been getting on the doorsteps I also think that Labour’s time is up in Reading. Roll on polling day and the local election count on the Friday afterwards.