Sunday, August 29, 2010

LibDem Negative Campaigning - New Low

The LibDems are very much predictable in the vicious and negative style of campaigning - the sort which led their former Leader Hereward Cooke, a decent man, to apologise to council for it (background here). Yet amazingly, despite poll after poll saying people don't like negative campaigning it seems to work. I wonder, however, if they can both be negative and mislead at the same time and still get away with it?

The following is taken from the latest "Simon Wright school of negative campaigning" - just a small section but from an A3 leaflet designed to knife Labour and suggest only the LibDems can beat them here (without a word about the Greens who actually do hold the ward).

Take a look ...
You would think from this that the LibDems has valiantly tried to stop the madness of Labour spending £1.5m of taxpayers cash on a "huge vain white-elephant of a project that was doomed to failure" (words taken from my first speech on the issue ...)

Yet, no. LibDem Councillors voted FOR this money to be spent and did so every time of asking.

Every time Labour wanted more cash to throw at this project, the LibDems said YES YES YES.

Check out the roll-call of those who voted for this money to be spent and you will soon find ...

"Councillors LUBBOCK, WATKINS ..."

and most embarrassingly ...

"... WRIGHT."

I wonder if Simon Wright knows his wife voted for this money to be spent? (For the record, the Conservative Group have voted against spending the money on every occasion we could have).

But wait - they have a chance to redeem themselves!! In 2008 and 2009 there were budget proposals on the table to reduce the unitary spend and use the money elsewhere. Surely if they were that concerned that would have voted FOR these measures?

Nope ... all LibDem Councillors, including Ros Wright, voted against Tory plans to scale back on unitary spending.

The the U-turn is sharp, the hypocrisy is breathtaking and no wonder people are losing faith in politics.

The LibDems vote, consistently, for unitary spending and then oppose it after the project fails.

This takes the LibDem negative campaigning to a new low - because it is designed to mislead.


Anonymous said...

This is shocking. I remember voting LibDem about 10 years ago when they were the up and coming party in Norwich. Power corrupted them and this new cohort of very aggressive campaigners has really put me off. That includes their doorstepping tactics too - at the GE when I said I was voting Conservative they verbally set upon me. At the local elections I will continue to vote Green despite of all this LibDem nonsense.

Linden Parker said...

I have to say I struggle to understand why the Norwich Lib Dems supported unitary in the first place.
I mean, it's all very well to pursue a possibility, but not when it has such a high cost involved.
Negative campaigning has it's place, and is fair enough when it's honest and open, but not when it's just plain misleading.

Anonymous said...

Antony, you too are misleading every one if you say every Lib Dem support it every time. Your own blog said of one who didn't.

Anonymous said...


Is it really that shocking that The Fib Dems in Norwich are behaving in this way? I spent three lovely years in Norwich for my studies, A city which will always have a place in my heart.

I have never seen a political party (the Norwich Lib Dems) campaign in such a nasty underhanded way, and I'm pretty sure I never will see it again. Growing up I was always told the Conservatives were the nasty party, well, next to the Norwich Lib Dems you guys are saints.

I'm glad I'm living back in a town where the Lib Dems are insignificant and will most likely carry on being. Simon Wright's victory at the general election was quite possibly the low point of the election. Something my fellow Greenies here in my part South London were just unable understand.

Oh, and I sincerely wish you all the best in Bowthorpe.

Antony said...

Anon No 1- I meant every LibDem Councillor (it was linked to the voting stats, sorry for not being so clear). Clearly not every LibDem backed it - for example, the S Norfolk LibDems and Broadland ones for a start! Plus the leadership of N Norfolk DC. But here in Norwich, turf of Mr Wright, they backed it to the hilt.

ex Councillor said...

Antony, shocking indeed but sadly what we have come to expect from the LD's which leads me to question why you are even considering forming an alliance with such a duplicitous bunch ?

EGL Resident said...

I too remember voting libdem back in the day because of their very centrist conduct and focus on local issues.

Now the ward I live in is strong Green and the libdem response is to be more negative and more destructive.

Antony's campaign at the GE along with Adrian and even Mr Clarke's was praisworthy because of its tone.

Simon Wright deserves to be a very short lived MP. You may think I am mad but if Brian Watkins was their candidate his majority would be 3k not 300.

Shape up lib dems.

Anonymous said...

True - I was canvassed by a Lib Dem for the general election and was told that they were 100 percent behind the unitary bid.

I thanked him and then voted Conservative!

But until poll day they were well behind the bid.

UEA Graduate said...

This may be the first indication of the Lib Dem implosion in the Norwich by-elections.

Historically the Lib Dems are well known for their negative campaigning and this does not at all surprise me at their latest attempt to score political points against Labour.

However does this type of campaigning lead to greater political apathy?
Surely people get sick and tired of parties misinforming the electorate.

It will be an interesting political case study to see how the parties fare because I can predict bad times ahead for the Lib Dems.

However one thing I would like to add is whether the Norwich Conservatives have considered forming an alliance with the Lib Dems and whether this latest incident has put a stop to this?

Andrew Wiltshire said...

On the specific note of forming a Con-Lib Dem Coalition...

At present, there are no negotiations between the Lib Dems and the Conservatives in Norwich.

A recent article in the Eastern Evening News suggests that an "alliance" or coalition is on the cards, but there have been no discussions, informal or otherwise, on this issue. Nor any negotiations between the Norwich Conservatives and any other groups, I hasten to add.

Does this mean that if the results fall in a way that allows for some sort of coalition to form, between whichever groups, that it won't happen? I cannot say, and I doubt the others can either.

What I can say, is that if there was going to be any kind of coalition, the negative, misleading nature of *certain* party's literature would have to change.

UEA Graduate said...

To be honest I feel that this by election campaign has been one of disappointment and lacklustre at best in some wards. I cannot speak for Bowthorpe as I do not reside there but in others there has been little effort by some (not all) political parties to inform the electorate of their actual policies. I am impressed by the Green campaign as they have set out clearly their policy programme. Plus they have a detailed manifesto outlining their policies. (whether I agree with all of their issues is another question).

However some have resorted to attacking other parties and running a negative campaign.

I am one of the citizens of Norwich who is actually interesting in local elections and want to make a difference in my ward. I actively engage politically in debates in my ward and have regular contact with my councillors. However I have found it increasingly difficult to convince others not to stay at home when the election comes.

I believe that I should take part in the democratic process because I am exercising my right to vote. However do I have a 'real choice' in the matter? I could vote for the incumbent (who I agree with on some issues but not on others) or another party which has done little to inform me of their policies.

I have done everything in my power to inform myself of other parties but feel it is not enough to make a rational choice. What should I do?

UEA Graduate said...

I may be one of the few who is starting to get sick and tired of listening to unitary. Some argued principally for it, others against it but the reality of the situation is that it's not going to happen. Well, at least not with this administration.

We need to start looking at possibly reformed more at an institutional level City Hall. For far too long it has lacked transparency and openness and I for one have found some of the Greens ideas for an 'Open Council' quite refreshing. Furthermore Conservative Minister Eric Pickles has set out a debate on whether we would want elected mayors. Perhaps we should look at these suggestions and whether we should implement it. I for one, would like to see a debate on how to make City Hall more transparent and representative.

I would like to know what are the Conservatives policies concerned 'elected mayors'? Would you endorse such an idea, or are you against it in principle?

Antony said...

UEA Grad - I am fully in favour of an elected mayor and would have voted for that option had I been a councillor in July! I have argued publicly and against my own party on this one.

Anonymous said...

Antony - great blog and good luck on Thursday!

As a Mancroft resident, I was surprised to read the latest LD leaflet and learn that the neither the conservatives nor the greens can win here! An odd claim given that past City Council election results show that it is usually a comfortable ward for the greens!

I don't understand why they persist with the "two horse race" approach when it is clearly inaccurate and worse, misleading. In other areas of life (eg retail and financial services) to make misleading claims of this nature can have serious repercussions - so why is it permitted here?

The leaflet goes on to criticise the Connaught appointment, describing them as "Labour's contractor". Surely the decision was taken by the Council's officers and procurement team, rather than labour?!

And I won't mention their support (woops, disapproval) of the unitary proposal.

The leaflet goes on to tell us all about the great things the two Simons might do for us, without any specifics.

I suppose it's telling that the surnames of the two Simons (our MP and the LD candidate) are "Wright" and "Nobbs"...........

Anonymous said...

Would this be like the Tory leaflets in Norwich which claimed the "local council were turning off the streetlights", which made no reference to the fact that it was the Tory County Council, not the Labour City Council who were turning the lights off ?

Pots and kettles ?

Deckard said...

I have not heard of this leaflet. But then again we don't get any Tory leaflets where I live. It is presumed my ward is some type of Socialist Microstate within the People's Republic of Norwich.

I do agree that sometimes local leaflets can be misleading, and I have read Tory literature about the Essex and Silver Rooms without mentioning that it is the Conservatives at the County Council pushing through the policy.