My recent letter taking issue with John Leigh of IFM Insurance over his views on devolution received an answer, but it was to a letter that I didn’t write.
The only claim I made on behalf of Sheffield Council was that its decision makers were doing ‘a fair job’ of meeting their responsibility to work with the private sector for the benefit of Sheffielders as a whole.
I said nothing about their conduct in other areas, except to point out the obvious difficulty of trying to run a city in the face of punitively imposed ‘austerity’.
A glance at the ‘economy’ section of Sheffield’s Wikipedia entry should be enough to dispel any notion that our city is inhospitable to business.
Stripped of splenetic personal abuse, J Leigh’s letter can be seen more clearly for what it is – a strident litany of exaggerations, untruths and unprovable claims designed to exclude debate and make its writer feel better about living in a place that keeps returning a Labour majority.
It opens with a brazen fanfare: ‘This city sits comfortably at the bottom of every measure of public service effectiveness’.
What are these measures? Where are they to be found? How can the people of Sheffield be comfortable sitting on a bed of nails?
If J Leigh can produce statistical evidence to prove Sheffield’s public services are the worst in the country, I’ll unhappily donate £50 to the Tory Party.
I’m no tribalist; I joined the Labour Party only a few months ago. I’m not interested in turning a blind eye to executive mistakes, or to the foolish way some councillors keep digging when they’re in a hole.
Nevertheless, making blanket accusations of incompetence or worse, particularly when it’s clear you’ve little idea how much the council might actually be to blame for the various problems you identify, is not the way to improve the performance of local politicians.
But then changing the way things are done is not really the point for the J Leighs of this world, is it?