We have in the past few weeks witnessed two types of election campaigns in Blackburn

There were those that aimed to get their message across in a dignified manner, and then there was this vicious ugly campaign.

If you didn’t see it or were not aware of it, then count yourself lucky. 

I do sense elections can bring out the best in people but also the worst. 

The conflict in Gaza and the national Labour leadership’s stance since October 7's Hamas terrorist attack led to a great deal of discontent towards the party within parts of the Muslim community in particular. 

There was a real frustration with Labour, more so than any other party in recent years. 

Far too quickly it became personal. It mattered not who you were and what you had said in the past, the fact that you were associated with the Labour Party was enough to condemn you to hell. In fact, it was a common theme. 

People were prepared to liken supporting Labour to committing a heinous crime. Now, the blame does not lie with the candidates. It has much to do with some of those around them. 

Anyone associated with the opposition was fair game. It made no difference if that person was a friend, family member or colleague. 

This was not sectarian politics but more a desire to settle old scores. 

People had genuine issues with the two mainstream parties over their reactions to the Israel/Hamas conflict, but it got completely out of hand. 

We have people who are not really interested in highlighting Palestine or the atrocities in Gaza, but settling old scores. It has been a feature of local politics for many years.

There were videos showing local councillors and anyone associated with them being likened to serial killers. 

One showed a montage of exorcisms, child deaths and councillors. Another detailed how mosque leaders were complicit in genocide for simply having their picture taken with a Labour candidate. 

Elsewhere the Labour party was accused of bullying tactics, with random videos of fights being mixed with footage of Labour canvassers. At times it was a free-for-all and some revelled in it like children. 

Then there was a scrap in the street. Something that could have been easily avoided but wasn’t.

It was embarrassing for Blackburn Labour but more for the people involved who became instant memes and shared across the country. 

Labour, it appears had stayed remarkably silent in the run-up to the local elections but that was about to change. 

Almost as if they had been told to ‘fight back’ against the barrage of criticism which was being dished out on a daily basis.

If you were in a WhatsApp group with opposing opinions, former friends had turned into sworn enemies overnight. 

For a period, the three of the independent candidates were far too busy squabbling between themselves to have any real challenge.

It was only a few weeks in they realised they were spending too much time putting each other down instead of running a campaign. 

The blame again lies with some of those supporters and 'agitators' and the underhand tactics used to put down the opposition. 

During this period candidates did thankfully speak out against the tit-for-tat posts.

 It was not good for the town and certainly not good for those at the centre of the accusations. 

There is hope. There is always hope. But it will take a while before those relationships begin to mend. Now it is the time to heal.