CAMDEN’S Labour Party has often complained of dirty tricks by opponents at recent by-elections. Swamped under the Lib Dem leaflet operation, Labour has struggled to win these one-off polls. It can all get a little tetchy, When Nick Russell (LD) beat Awale Olad (Lab) in Kentish Town in 2008, there were reports of slanging matches in the streets and misdirection on the doorstep. (It’s funny how things turn out.. Awale is currently a councillor in Holborn and Nick lost his seat at May’s boroughwides)
But, with another by-election in Kentish Town to be held on Thursday, who’s playing the stinker this time?
The latest Labour leaflet – see the smallprint below, by electoral law the party has to admit that it was published from their offices in Gloucester Avenue – is camouflaged in Tory desktop publishing. A quick glance at this counterfeit, a barrage of assaults on the Lib Dems, and most voters would assume it has come out of Conservative candidate Will Blair’s campaign.
Not only is there this unsubtle atttempt at deception, the leaflet is a feast of negative campaigning which local politicians always say – publicly – they detest. It returns to that hoary old zzzzzzz subject over whether it is important or not that a councillor lives within the precise ward boundaries. When you think of the hard work completed by someone like Roger Robinson, who lives in Highgate but gets up in the middle of the night to aid constituents in Somers Town, the debate looks pretty irrelevant.
It’s a bit different when they choose to live in another part of London – or, say, Arizona – but surely having a home just up the road isn’t so criminal. Surely people simply want somebody who will work hard to represent them and their patch of the borough.
Plus, plus.. didn’t Labour cry foul when their opponents moaned incessantly that Glenda Jackson didn’t live in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency at the General Election earlier this year. It would be interesting to know who sanctioned this leaflet. I can’t believe the whole group approves of this tactic. Some might be worried it can only backfire.