By Mark Wallace
Follow Mark on Twitter.
Lambeth Council – whose high taxes I have the misfortune of paying – have a long track record of propaganda at taxpayers' expense. In the past they have run poster campaigns making political attacks on austerity and welfare reform, and published costly newspapers attacking the Government, all the while complaining that they don't have enough money for actual services.
This time, they've sunk even lower – which by the standards displayed so far is pretty low indeed. A new series of leaflets and posters seeks to scaremonger about changes to the fire service – presenting as a news headline a completely fabricated story about children dying in a Lambeth school fire.
Labour must answer questions about why taxpayers' money is being used in such a disgraceful fashion by a supposedly cash-strapped Borough.
It's no use passing it off as a council campaign or nothing to do with senior Labour figures, either. The council's posters are conveniently being used as free materials for Labour's party political campaigns, including the Save Clapham Fire Station Facebook page – where the below picture has surfaced:
According to the caption, it shows "local residents concerned over these massive cuts". Some may well just be ordinary residents, but the lady slap bang in the cenre in the red jacket is none other than Councillor Lib Peck, Labour Leader of Lambeth Council. The gentleman to her right is Labour Councillor Christopher Wellbelove, who leads the party's campaign against Boris' Fire Station policy.
This is all very useful for Lambeth Labour – the council they run coincidentally churns out and distributes alarmist leaflets at taxpayers' expense on a topic which they happen to also be campaigning on in the run up to next year's elections. When local residents spontaneously meet on the issue, there are Lambeth council posters aplenty, the council Leader centre stage among them and a photographer on hand to supply pictures for the Labour Party's Facebook publicity.
So what of Labour's other prominent figures from Lambeth? Does rising star Chuka Umunna, the Shadow Business Secretary and MP for Streatham, endorse this behaviour by his local Labour councillors? How about newly elected Croydon North MP Steve Reed, who until he won the by-election in November was the Lambeth Council Leader who oversaw the start of this culture of taxpayer-funded propaganda?