Voters will see through the Tory blue mist declares Peggy Dow as she battles for caring votes
Peggy Dow, faithful community campaigner and former Mayor of Marlborough, is adamant. “People will see through the blue mist the Tories are creating quite quickly,” she declares. “They know the truth.
“People are hurting because of this government’s austerity policies and dire cuts to welfare benefits. It’s always the low paid and the vulnerable who are hardest hit. We need to fight to keep Marlborough as a vibrant, caring town.”
She is defending her Wiltshire Council seat in Marlborough’s East ward having quit the Liberal Democrats last November after 14 years a member and now stands under no political banner in a tough fight -- for the first time against four other candidates.
At 64, she knows the town well, having lived in Marlborough most of her life, married to Norman for 46 years, the mother of two children, now with six grandchildren, and a record of 13 years as a Marlborough town councillor.
What is concerning her is the “People first – not politics” Tory claim and what she regards as the blatant use by local candidates and David Cameron following the death of Baroness Thatcher, the aim to influence current and future elections.
Are we all Thatcherites now, as David Cameron suggests?
“No, in one word No,” she protests. “Nobody knows what he is talking about. What the government is doing now is what has hit people, not what happened back in the 1980s. It’s another Tory smokescreen that won’t work unless you are a tribal Tory and of a certain age.
“It’s a shame Baroness Thatcher has died at 87 but she had a good run.”
And on the local scene she is bemused by the Tories denying their party affiliation by telling voters they are people first candidates and are not fighting directly against other political parties.
“But they are standing under the Conservative banner,” she insists. “As far as I am concerned, they have to answer to the Conservatives and have to toe the party line no matter what they say.”
She explains that their approach is because Nick Fogg, Marlborough’s other Wiltshire councillor standing in West ward, has always been an independent, and she is now one too. “So we don’t have to answer to any political party about what we do.
“I just answer to the people who elected me. I deliberately have no label. And I hope the voters see that this is so much better, that I am independent. I don’t have to tow any party line and answer only to them.”
Peggy is equally outspoken referring to party propaganda that claims 1.25 million new jobs have been created when some 600,000 mainly council workers have been made redundant, 220 in Wiltshire so far with more to follow.
She points to her revelation that while Wiltshire is seen as a prosperous county with people earning an average £40,000 to £50,000 there is a hidden second tier much lower down for whom a food bank has been opened in Devizes.
“For most of us around Marlborough a wage of £20,000 would be a luxury,” she says. “The average Marlborough wage is £12,000 to £15,000. Cutting tax credits and benefits for those, forcing mothers to go out to work instead of looking after their children at home makes it even worse.”
As the organiser for eight years of the weekly Friendship Club at Christchurch, Marlborough, she knows that churches are donating food to the Devizes food bank to meet the increasing demand from those facing poverty.
“We have put out a box for collecting food for those who simply can’t exist on what they earn and are not scroungers,” she says.
“Sky News reported last month that there is even a food bank in Cameron’s Witney constituency in the Cotswolds and he went to see it only on the basis that his visit was kept secret. That’s disgusting.”
Out canvassing, she finds voters not so much angry but more concerned with what might happen next with the economy in crisis while others are facing the “bedroom tax” on their homes while there are no one-bedroom properties to move into.
She fears that people are so demoralised by politics that they will not vote, their lack of trust extending to the banks, the national media, and the utilities. “We have a low turnout anyway, which is a great shame,” she admits.
Her election leaflet highlights her fight for a new primary school in Marlborough, funding cuts halting the plans, and as a retired hospital worker she calls for the expansion of local medical and dental services.
She describes herself as the “voice of the people who don’t have a voice” and adds: “I need their support to win. I am hoping people will look at the literature, realise who are the people who care.
“Don’t vote for the party you have supported all your life. Vote for people you think can do the best job. And I believe that’s me.”
Also standing in the Marlborough East ward are: Alan Cox, Labour; Stewart Raymond Dobson, Conservative; Nigel Hugh Kerton, Independent; Susan Elizabeth Knowles, Liberal Democrat.