The Green Party

Friday, June 12, 2009

I'm Tom, fly me - to Brussels!?

Another shameful sequel to the grubby LibDem Euro leaflet saga- one of our supporters was telephoned on polling day by the enthusiastic LibDem knocking up brigade: "Would you like a lift to the polls to vote for Tom Brake?"
A supreme irony that this is the party that would have us believe they are in favour, altruistically, of fair votes. When a PR election comes up, they pretend it's first past the post.
I suggest Inspector Knacker reads up the book of electoral law.

Indecent, dishonest, cynical ...and legal?!

Greens (and everyone else) condemn LibDems Euro leaflet lies
Those of us used to the ludicrous graphics routinely employed by the LibDems (and imitated equally amateurishly by Labour where they exist) cannot have been that surprised by the 'two horse race' version that was trotted out prior to the recent European elctions. there's a full discussion of the tawdry tactics on local blogger Adrian Short's excellent blog (

Mr Short reports, quoting from Paul Burstow's leaflet first:
“It’s so close here” declares the headline. “Elections in Sutton and Cheam are always a close finish between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives.” To the side is a big bar chart showing the LibDems with 47%, Conservatives on 41% and Labour with just 12%. “Here in Sutton and Cheam, elections are between the LibDems and the Conservatives”, a callout box reminds us.
What the leaflet doesn’t say is that the electoral system for the European Parliament is totally different and there’s no need for anyone to vote tactically no matter which party they support.
The leaflet from Tom Brake, LibDem MP for Carshalton and Wallington, takes the same trick to even more sordid depths.“This election is going to be a tight contest and every vote will make a difference… With Labour out of the race in Sutton, more and more people are backing the Liberal Democrats to win.”

Did you see what they did there? “Labour out of the race in Sutton”? It’s not a Sutton race, it’s a London race, and in that London race Labour are still in a stronger position than the LibDems even despite the floundering government in Westminster.

And what does it mean that “people are backing the Liberal Democrats to win”? This isn’t a winner-takes-all election like we have for Westminster. All the three big parties are likely to get at least one Euro MP out of eight in London and it’s very likely that smaller parties like the Greens and UKIP won’t come away empty-handed. The Greens get the same treatment. “The Greens have no chance of winning in Sutton”, the leaflet says. Well, in the last Euro election in 2004 the Greens picked up 8% of the London vote, giving them a single Euro MP just like the LibDems.
Bob Steel, chair of Sutton Greens, commented in the Sutton Guardian:"The LibDems’ leaflet is a shamefaced attempt to con Green voters into considering a “tactical” vote for another party even though they have no need to do so. The leaflets are deceitful and patronising. They will only further corrode trust in politicians, already at an all-time low....Lib Dems apparently have such a low view of their European performance that they devote 90 per cent of their leaflet to trying to dupe voters they are electing Tom Brake to deal with local issues like recycling. In fact, in the Euro election, every vote really does count.

Mr Short says: "I contacted the Lib Dems about my concerns shortly after writing my article on 15 May and the only response I have had was one from Sarah Ludford MEP (London region) saying that she finds no grounds for complaint. The Lib Dems have had ample opportunity to clarify, correct, withdraw or even substantially defend these leaflets but it would seem that they are entirely unwilling to discuss them seriously. While that is their right, the conclusion I draw from that is that the Lib Dems don’t want to defend their leaflets because they’re indefensible".
Mr Short reported the Lib Dems’ leaflets to the police as he suspected they may have broken electoral law. However, the police have decided not to take any action- no surprises there, they are probably too busy updating their files on Climate camp protestors and other dangerous elements.