Richard Willis's Blog

First for local news and first for comment

Labour’s Racist “Dog Whistle” Campaign

A row is brewing over the campaign run by Labour’s candidate in Church ward. I am grateful to a reader who has sent me a link to blog post by a former Reading Labour Councillor (I believe he is Andrew Tattersall) who condemns a Labour leaflet which uses language usually associated with the far right. This is of particular significance in that the defending Conservative Councillor is Cllr Azam Janjua, who whilst born in Pakistan has lived in this country almost certainly longer than the Labour candidate has been alive!

The offending statements in the Labour leaflet are that their candidate “was born and bred in Reading” and then finishes with “She will fight for us here in Church Ward because she is one of us.” Since she lives several miles from Church ward on the other side of Reading in Tilehurst, in what way is she “one of us”? Cllr Azam Janjua on the other hand lives in the heart of the ward he represents and has earned a reputation for working for all the people of Church ward whatever their background or place of birth.

Cllr Azam Janjua

According to the former Labour Councillor blogger 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.

It is remarkable that Labour who are often so quick to condemn others for racism have resorted to such low tactics in this election. I hope and expect that Azam will be returned to the Council with a thumping majority and that Labour’s candidate from west Reading will be sent packing along with her offensive leaflets.

UPDATE: Have a look at my colleague Cllr Isobel Ballsdon’s blog here.


April 6, 2012 - Posted by | Local

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