Monday, 1 June 2009

Lib Dem smear campaign backfires

Election campaigns always have unexpected twists and surprises. The news in Cornwall today is that the Lib Dems have been putting out leaflets which smear an opponent and describe him as "a greasy haired t***." Not very positive.

The leaflet was sanctioned and promoted by Joe Taylor who works for Julia Goldsworthy, courtesy of the taxpayer, of course.

As someone who has seen a few political campaigns over the years, it has always struck me as odd that the "Lib Dem" party are seen by some people as being less "political" and even more "positive" than others. I suppose it just stems from the fact that they have long been seen as the "in-between" lot. But anyone who has experienced political campaigns knows different.

Campaign guidance issued to Lib Dem activists by the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors sets out clearly their approach. The published document called "Effective Opposition" orders Lib Dem members to, "Be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly."

It goes on to say, "Don't be afraid to exaggerate...Positive campaigning will NOT be enough to win control of the council."

And finally it says "you can secure support from voters who normally vote Tory by being effectively anti-Labour and similarly in a Tory area secure Labour votes by being anti-Tory."

So there you have it.

I remember when I was helping in the Crewe and Nantwich by election last year, there was an issue over vandalism and theft of party election signs. At one point, we were having 30 a night damaged. There will always be some damage to signs for all parties, but this seemed to be happening on an orchestrated scale. At first we suspected the Labour Party - but then it emerged that they, too, were suffering heavy losses of their own signs. The only party that wasn't seeing its signs disappear were the Liberal Democrats. Funny that.

I have always found this sort of "anorak tendency" in politics a bit sad. Those who really believe in liberal democracy would surely value freedom of speech and tolerate alternative view points.

Someone once explained to me that you should not be surprised by the sharp practice of the Lib Dems and that you only needed to look at those rather arrogant "winning here!" orange diamonds to see that they really exist only for the campaign - and have few real convictions beyond that. At times like this, it shows...