Now we don't pretend to have done a full survey of all the election literature circulating both Longdendale and the High Peak, but from what we have seen so far, it seems remarkably free of mention of Bypass 2.0.
In the High Peak, in leaflets mailed and posted by the successor to Tom 'Shiteman' Levitt - Caitlin Bisknell - there's no mention the Bypass anywhere. This is also the case in the examples of literature delivered on behalf of Andrew 'Tweedledumber' Bingham (we will try to post scans of these leaflets when we have time).
But the most interesting case is that of the Labour PPC in Stalybridge & Hyde, Jonathan Reynolds. A website has been erected for his campaign this week, by the looks of it in a rather hasty fashion. Here's what we noticed on a cursory glance:
- It seems to contain rather a lot of press releases about James Purnell - in fact, it appears to be Purnell's website with a makeover - a bit like Reynolds himself.
- Reynolds 'About me' spiel on the website makes no mention of Bypass 2.0, although there's plenty of talk about 'better transport by road and rail'.
- Politicians and other folk publicly backing Reynolds on the site DO NOT include fellow Councillor Sean Parker-Perry (wonder why?) and, crucially, Tameside Council leader Roy Oldham.
- As we've already said, this website appears to be James Purnell's redirected to a new domain name, and in the haste to get it online, Reynolds seems to have overlooked the fact that it does not contain his agent's details*, but does contain those of the General Sectretary of the Labour Party (Ray Collins) at the bottom (as a Labour MP's website often does). Those more well-versed in electoral law than ourselves may want to see if anything illegal is taking place.
Whilst we haven't seen Reynolds campaign literature yet, it seems clear that many of the major political parties in the area do not consider the Bypass to be a campaigning issue. How long this lasts for after the election remains to be seen.
*UPDATE, 22/04/2010: a recent article in Tribune magazine carries a description of what seems like internecine civil war within Stalybridge and Hyde Labour Party, being heavily critical of Reynolds and his 'backers'. It makes clear that Reynolds was struggling to find an election agent, but has now secured Mike Kane, who some may remember replaced Mike Doherty as James Purnell's Office Manager when Doherty was sacked for writing to the press to back Purnell without declaring that he worked for him. Reynolds website now names Kane as his agent, although bizarrely he seems to have been re-named 'Michel'.