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Time to go for the juggular

PUBLISHED: 09:57 04 February 2003 | UPDATED: 16:15 24 February 2010

WHEN Governments get into trouble, as they inevitably do in mid term, the opposition parties should be making hay and picking up support as voters show their disapproval of the ruling elite.

WHEN Governments get into trouble, as they inevitably do in mid term, the opposition parties should be making hay and picking up support as voters show their disapproval of the ruling elite.

Tony Blair's administration is flailing about. It has hooked itself up to President George W. Bush's policy on Iraq, with Defence Secretary Geoff Hoon even suggesting we might "nuke" Saddam Hussein's military assets.

Labour is failing to grapple with the growing problem of illegal immigrants entering the country. The stock market is in near meltdown that could lead to a major crisis in private pensions and endowments. Council

tax is set to go through the roof because of the Government's deliberate policy of diverting resources away from southern England and East Anglia. Transport is in a bigger mess than when Labour came to power in 1997 and a few centimetres of snow last week caused absolute chaos.

So what are the opposition parties doing? I spent last week away from the office and there was little evidence in the newspapers or television bulletins that indicated the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats actually existed, apart from Iain Duncan Smith's call to end the Geneva Convention on asylum seekers.

Among the 281 e-mails waiting for me at work yesterday, there were 55 Press releases from Conservative Central Office and 45 from the Liberal Democrats – far too many inconsequential "attacks" on minor Government policy.

If, instead of "little and often" statements on every subject under the sun, they concentrated on major issues of substance, the media just might take more notice.

n Harwich Tory candidate Douglas Carswell won first prize last week at a fundraising dinner in aid of St Nicholas's Church spire appeal – a House of Commons bottle of whisky donated and signed by the constituency's Labour MP Ivan Henderson.

Says Douglas, who is aiming to overturn Labour's 2,596 majority in Harwich: "This is a good omen for the future and shows luck is on our side. I intend to save the whisky until General Election night to toast my success."

n A plea for help from Labour activists has come from John Fairhall, a member of the Manningtree and District branch of the North Essex constituency party.

Mr Fairhall reports sadly that the Manningtree branch has not met for a couple of years, following three non-quorate meetings. Last May, he received a letter from the chairman of North Essex Labour Party indicating the constituency party "had ceased to function," again after some non-quorate meetings.

Mr Fairhall has tried, without success, to get information from the regional office of the Labour Party in Ipswich on how many other local branches are non functioning. He asks, through this column, for frustrated activists in Essex and Suffolk whose branch does not meet to make contact.

Information direct to him via e-mail at john@fairhall.demon.co.uk


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