LOOK at this stunning update on the Straight Choice website, a compendium of the barrow loads of election literature that hits the doorstep every week day hour. It’s a pretty crude Lib Dem pull-out which the website claims has been sent out to voters in Islington South (a territory where Bridget Fox is threatening Labour’s Emily Thornberry’s parliamentary future) to consider.
Click to have a closer look: It’s police tape and press clippings about Labour MPs being charged with false accounting with their expenses. The spread of extracts suggests there are a half dozen case studies for bad behaviour for us to think about it, but if you look carefully at the borrowed headlines they are largely about the same investigation; one that hasn’t reached a courtroom yet. Elliot Morley, David Chaytor and Jim Devine deny the criminal charges put to them and, whether there is an election going on or not, they are not guilty men until a jury says otherwise.
Of course, all parties stick out crude literature at election time. No party could honestly say they believe every single despatch they have stuffed through our letterboxes in the last few weeks has been completely free from fact-skewing boasts or bendy bar charts.
But surely the Lib Dems will cringe looking back at this particular example. First up, it’s pretty unfair to be circulating this kind of content on Emily Thornberry’s patch, as she was not caught up in expenses mess at all.
Secondly, members of all parties were caught out by the expenses scandal and doesn’t it get a bit sticky when one party starts saying: Well, we weren’t as bad as you. Folks are still wondering, for example, why tax payers had to cover a bill for Julia Goldsworthy’s £1,200 rocking chair.
There were stories too, let’s not forget, that memos were circulated by the Lib Dems instructing their members to ‘milk’ the system to actually fund election leaflets.
Maybe the website has got it wrong, that this was never sent out in the south of Islington. But if it was, shouldn’t candidates like Bridget Fox stick to using their campaigns for things like questionning how the government has allowed health reviews to take place that lead to plain silly ideas like the closure of the emergency unit at the Whittington Hospital? There are plenty of stronger sticks to beat Labour with.
And, after all, once a campaign starts on the really negative curve, there’s a danger it will be thrown back in all directions. Opponents will naturally ask: Has any Lib Dem MP, councillor or donor ever been charged with a criminal offence? Don’t leave a comment, we all know the answer to that one..
Everybody stay calm out there.