There is a council byelection on Thursday in the Rufford division for Nottinghamshire Council Council. Some voters have put up posters in their windows saying: "No John Peck rubbish here thank you." A disobliging reference to the Labour candidate. Others have displayed posters in support of Mr Peck. So far that all sounds familiar to an election campaign – at least one where apathy is not completely triumphant.
What is unusual about this election is that Council tenants displaying posters attacking Mr Peck have been ordered to remove them.
A housing officer from Newark and Sherwood Homes, the Council's housing almo, decided that posters attacking Mr Peck were in breach of the tenancy agreement – on the grounds it was likely to cause offence. However it was decided that posters in support of Mr Peck were quite in order as they would not cause offence. So rather than getting on with tackling genuinely anti social behaviour we see Newark and Sherwood Homes launching the most astonishing attack on freedom and democracy.
More details are on the Blue Guerilla blog.
The matter was raised Communities and Local Government questions in the House of Commons yesterday:
Mr Mark Spencer (Sherwood) (Con): Is the Secretary of State aware that Newark and Sherwood Homes in my constituency is threatening its tenants with eviction for displaying a poster requesting not to have election literature delivered? Is it not unprecedented for a housing authority to step into the democratic process like that, and will he talk with the Electoral Commission about the matter?
Mr Pickles: That seems to me to be treating tenants as some 19th century mill owner might have treated his workers. It is entirely inappropriate that tenants should be refused their democratic right to display a poster. I urge the returning officer to look into the injustice immediately.
Tyranny comes not silently like a thief in the night but openly, and in broad daylight, boldly declaring its intention.