Please note: these Jottings are purely personal comment, and do not necessarily or directly represent the policy of either the Conservative Party or the Conservative Group on Medway Council.
As regular readers of this column will know, I always enjoy reading the local Liberal Democrats' Focus leaflets, as they are often so poorly produced and their content so laughable that they make for quite entertaining reading.
Their technique has been to put in some snippets of useful information, and then sneak in some downright dubious stuff. We've seen it before, and no doubt we shall continue to see the same method in the future.
The psychology behind it is simple, and it goes like this: "Get your reader to trust you by providing some helpful and genuine facts, then they will be easily convinced by the rest of your writings."
I learned about this when I was producing Focus and Spotlight for LibDems in other areas, before moving to Kent. It started alarm bells ringing in my head then, and the more I have learned about that party's methods the more I turned away from them.
In time I had no alternative but to leave them completely. It is, however, my hope that they will clean up their act and become a genuinely credible political party one day.
Back to Focus, though. The most recent issue is interesting in that it is better produced than usual (apart from an awkward-to-read text flow around an illustration). The content seems much "straighter" this time, and indeed I have little quibble with it—which must be a first!
I note there is a new member of their team this time, and I wonder whether this new addition is now producing these leaflets. Looks promising...
Personally, I suspect that they have started to learn: they have almost been wiped out on Medway Council, reduced from 15 members to just six in the last local elections here. One of those few remaining seats is definitely vulnerable to the Conservatives (who have already taken the other seat in that ward), another two could well go the same way, and with the next Medway local elections looming the LibDems must be really worried.
Without at least six members post-May 2007 they won't even have enough to call-in executive decisions or several other functions that need a minimum of six members. They would become virtually as ineffectual as the two independent members are now.
Therefore they might at last have realised that in order to survive in Medway they must now drop the dirty tricks for which they have become renowned and try to regain some credibility. They do, however, need to target Labour wards as they stand very little chance of making significant inroads into most Conservative-held (or shared) wards. It's just the way it is.
One cannot help wonder, though, just how long it will take to regain the trust of the electorate here, so many of whom have realised what the LibDems have been doing all these years. Once bitten, twice shy, as the saying goes.
It will not be an easy task to gain anything like a mainstream level of public confidence in the party, and it is not helped by some of their wacky policies that even the Official Monster Raving Looney Party, when questioned on various LibDem policies, found unpalatable to them...
My own view is that if they really are making a serious effort to clean up their act, I wish them well in this. I believe it would be healthier for British politics in general, and that is something we really do need!