Wednesday, 27 May 2009

Fraudulent Lib Dem election literature

There has been a bit of a fuss about a BNP leaflet turning out to be fraudulent in various respects -- hardly, I should have thought, a very surprising state of affairs. See for instance this by Danny Finkelstein.

But how honest is the election literature of the respectable mainstream parties?

Through our door comes a remarkably dishonest leaflet from the Lib Dems. Its entire purpose is to persuade us to vote for their list in the Euro elections, headed by incumbent MEP Sarah Ludford, who, I hasten to add, is a Good Thing.

We will leave aside the fact that the leaflet contains more pictures of Simon Hughes and Vince Cable (both also Good Things, in my book; that's not the point) than of Ms Ludford. They are popular London MPs at Westminster, neither of whom has anything at all to do with the European Parliament. But all the parties do this sort of thing.

What is shocking is that the leaflet urges us to vote tactically for the Lib Dems, though this is a proportional election by party list for the whole of London, in which tactical voting is completely irrelevant.

Thus, the leaflet says "Only the Lib Dems can stop Labour here", and quotes the statistics for the last general election in this constituency, in which the Tories came a poor third. The implication is that a Tory vote is a wasted vote. The message is rubbed in with a picture of Winston Churchill, captioned "The Conservatives haven't won here since before World War II. Every Tory vote helps Labour win".

There is no mention of the fact that this election is for a London-wide list, in which the Westminster constituencies play no part at all. Those of us who happen to be well-informed about these matters know perfectly well that neither a Tory nor a Labour vote would be wasted in this election. But many voters who pay less attention to these things will be confused by this deliberate attempt to mislead. So far from "every Tory vote helping Labour to win", every Tory vote in this particular election will help to elect a Tory MEP for London as a whole (of which, as it happens, there are three in the outgoing parliament to the LibDems' one).

In fact, the only certain wasted votes here will be those for independents that nobody has ever heard of and for tiny no-hope crackpot parties such as the soi-disant "English Democrats" or the SPGB.

I find it particularly disappointing when the Lib Dems turn out, as sadly they often do, to be ruthless and dishonest in their local campaigning. At a stroke they thereby lose any claim to the moral high ground that many of their worthy policy positions at national and international level might otherwise seem to justify.

As it happens, the most recent polls suggest that Lib Dem hopes of gaining a second London seat in Brussels are vulnerable to a possible Tory surge, especially as the total number of London MEPs is being reduced from 9 to 8. No doubt that is the real reason why they are desperate to hoodwink people into not voting Conservative who might otherwise have considered doing so.


Costigan Quist said...

You have a point...but.

Much of the electorate are treating this, as ever, as a referendum on the Government.

As results are being reported on a per-borough basis, voters have the opportunity to give a verdict in their area.

Beyond the election of MEPs, it genuinely makes a difference how people vote in their local authority area. A collapse in support for one party could persuade a local MP embroiled in expenses to resign, for example.

I agree it's questionable to highlight the vote in a local authority area when the constituency is a whole region; but there's an argument that it's perfectly valid because that's how many of the voters themselves would like their vote to be seen.

Whether we like it or not, Euro elections for most people are not about electing MPs.

I don't think it's entirely wrong for the party to recognise that,

peezedtee said...

Hmmm. The fact remains that "Every Tory vote helps Labour win" is a barefaced lie in this particular election.

ceedee said...

@Costigan: How is that any defence of the lie "Every Tory vote helps Labour win"?

It's pathetic and the LibDems ought to stop this kind of false reporting.

keithunder said...

They are spreading the same nonsence in Manchester. Including a misleading graph where 25% is represented as just below 58%.
I emailed Chris Davies the MEP to complain. I was going to vote Lib Dem.. I think I will vote Green now!

SheffieldResident said...

Exactly the same here in Sheffield - Lib Dem leaflet trying to mislead by showing the election as a two-party race, when it's not the case as it's a PR vote. I emailed my local Lib Dem MEP to complain and her office today said she had "has nothing to do with the design or distribution of these leaflets". (!!) If you do a Google Search there are more blog posts on the subject. Shame, I will now be voting Green.