Thursday, 18 March 2010

Lobbied by the Lib Dem lobbyists

Guidance issued by the Lib Dem Party to local activists orders them to "Be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly...don't be afraid to exaggerate...positive campaigning will not be enough to win."

It's advice that has been practiced with zeal by Lib Dems here in Camborne and Redruth and has undermined their credibility locally. Last year, Julia Goldsworthy's office sanctioned a bitter and twisted leaflet which described the Mebyon Kernow candidate as a "greasy haired tw*t."

Earlier this year, local Lib Dems attacked me for having a real job in the private sector with Portland Communications - and even attempted to claim that I had been "parachuted in" from London. This week while canvassing I came across one former Liberal voter who said she was so disgusted at this negative campaigning that she emailed Julia Goldsworthy to complain. Julia's response was to blame her agent, saying that she had not seen the leaflet before it went out.

This week local Lib Dems have returned to the same old theme. Terrye Teverson, wife of the failed MEP, has claimed that I did not disclose the fact that I had worked for Portland. Her allegation is completely false. The day that I joined the firm at the end of March 2009, a press release was issued and there was widespread media coverage at the time and since.

Portland is one of the UKs leading communications agencies and it supports the industry's voluntary code of practice so is transparent about its clients. They range from firms like Coca Cola, Vodafone and Apple to leading charities, particularly in Africa, such as Kofi Annan, the Tutu Foundation, the Africa Progress Panel and the Mo Ibrahim Foundation - which works for better governance in African countries.

I make no apology for having done real jobs in the real world. I think one of the weaknesses of our current Lib Dem MP is that she has only ever worked in politics and has no life experience. The jobs I have done range from back breaking work on the farm in the worst weather Cornwall can throw at you, to working on a nursery in Worcester that raised trees and roses, to being Press Secretary to David Cameron and, yes, working in the commercial world helping firms with issues like Corporate Social Responsibility.

It is easy to forget that most candidates in this contest are unpaid volunteers and the majority also have to work for a living - Nick Clegg worked for a lobby firm while a candidate. Of course, this is not a problem that Julia Goldsworthy herself has because she claims over £159,000 a year from the tax payer in so called "expenses." The real scandal is not that volunteer candidates have real jobs in the real world. It is why the Lib Dem MP thinks it is OK to claim £400 a month from the taxpayer for extra food without even submitting receipts.