Wednesday, 22 April 2015

On the campaign trail with Paul Uppal

Everybody else is doing such a good job covering the travails of that spivvy Mr Shapps that I thought I'd turn my attention to my local mini-Shapps, Mr Paul Uppal.

I received his campaign literature yesterday. It's a curious document in many ways - very interesting rhetorical devices have been used, amongst other things. Curiously, the word 'Conservative' appears very sparsely: once as 'Conservatives', once in the phrase 'Vote Conservative' and once in an email address. It's almost as if he doesn't want to stress which party he represents.

Now isn't that an odd choice of device: the legalistic terminology of contracts? My admittedly amateur understanding of the term involves an agreement to create legal obligations which may be enforced via the courts. Given the flexible nature of an MP's duties, it seems unlikely that a contractual relationship can be established between an MP and his or her constituents. What remedies are available in the event of Mr Uppal breaching his legal commitments? When are we going to sign the papers?

Leaving aside the rather dubious use of the word 'contract', lets have a look at what Mr Uppal promises he'll do if elected.

1. To stand up for our local community.

Wow. I have no idea how he's defining 'stand up for' or 'our local community'. It feels more like the kind of bland rubbish I associate with, er, politicians' promises.

2. I will not make personal attacks on my political opponents.

Fine. Good on him. Not sure it's legally enforceable though.

3. I will hold regular advice surgeries across the constituency.

Er… like all MPs already do? He's not exactly going the extra mile here. Let's not forget too that for quite a long time, Paul only held meetings by appointment, to avoid awkward conversations with people he didn't like. Still, he's raising the bar…on himself.

4. I will publish all details of my expenses as an MP on my website.

Gosh! It's a new dawn for openness. No MPs do this! (er: virtually all of them do, since all that unpleasantness).

5. I will hold regular meetings with our local community leaders.

I like this one. Well, not exactly like, more 'admire the rat-like cunning'. I suppose it avoids committing to meeting any of we mere mortals, but essentially it leaves the meaning of 'community leaders' very obscure. Whenever a 'community leader' from Northern Ireland appears on screen, it usually denotes an unelected ex-terrorist who literally knows where the bodies are buried and is being bought off with grants for 'community cohesion' or whatever. While guns are relatively rare round here, 'community leaders' are not. I rather suspect Paul means he'll meet religious groups and Tory fronts, anyone who'll give him a decent photo op rather than genuinely representative members of the community…like elected officials.

6. I will be open and honest about public spending. I believe in complete transparency when it comes to public spending. As a candidate none of my campaign literature has been paid for by tax payers. As your MP I will always be honest and let you know how public spending is being used to better our area.

Now we're getting to the good stuff. Has Paul been 'open and honest' about public spending? I have to say that he hasn't. For instance he has consistently voted in Parliament for cuts to council funding, then consistently campaigned against cuts to council spending. Paul has claimed to have revitalised the local economy, including getting the Jaguar Land Rover plant nearby. Presumably for reasons of space, he never mentions that local councils provided millions of pounds in investment to secure the factory. That seems rather dishonest to me.

We should congratulate Paul of course for not spending public money on his campaign material. Well done, Paul, for not breaking the law. Has anyone, ever, used public funds for an election campaign? As far as 'contracts' go, a commitment not to commit a crime is not exactly the most ambitious one I've ever seen.

But while we're on the subject of openness and honesty, let's take a minute to contemplate the sources of Paul's election funding. Who are they? What is the United and Cecil Club? (Hint: it collects cash from people who don't want their names associated with political donations, then passes it on to candidates. This disgusting practice is – naturally – perfectly legal).

7. I will stand up for our local services.

A flat lie. As I mentioned earlier, he votes through cuts in London then batters the council for making them. If ever you wanted a definition of cynicism, that is it.

8. I will continue to stand up for local residents.

The third use of 'stand up'. I still don't know what it means.

On the back of the leaflet is 'About Paul Uppal'. It mentions his attendance at local schools, but doesn't mention his degree in Politics (classification: unknown - he won't tell anyone for some reason). It says he 'used to run his own small business': the voters don't need to know that Pinehurst Securities is a multi-million pound property speculation business. It claims he 'secured over £163m of investment in our local area' - sadly there's no footnote explaining how this figure was arrived at.

However, I'm sure that Paul's website (address included on the leaflet) will offer a lot more clarity and detail. Let's go there.

Oh dear.

You know what, readers? I did contact Michael, wondering whether some technical error had disabled a candidate's website. I didn't really expect a reply, being just a nosy stranger, but I got one!

Technical errors hadn't ruined Paul's website. Rather embarrassingly, Mr Uppal has forgotten to pay his bill. Worse than that, Michael's company has
'been unable to reach Paul Uppal or his team for some time'. 

In fact, says Michael,
'If you see him on the campaign trail give him a sharp prod from me'. 

Well it's unlikely that we'll see such an august figure as Paul Uppal actually campaigning (photo-ops well away from the great unwashed are more his style) but I'm happy to leave this post as a little reminder to our Paul of the importance of managing one's finances effectively and 'complete transparency'.

So in sum: his 'contract' is a load of old bollocks and we can't look through his commitments to sound finance because he can't even manage to pay his website hosts. Yet Paul wants us to re-elect him and his party to stop Labour 'wrecking' the economy.


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