Monday, 1 December 2008

Lib Dems Bend The Truth Again

The Lib Dems, in Haringey at least, have a reputation for putting out misleading information to the public about the electoral prospects of opposition parties. In the past they have used graphs with highly selective voting data, portraying them as the only party that can win council seats off Labour. It is true that they are the main challengers to Labour in many areas, but not exclusively so.

Well, they are at it again. I received a copy of the glossy ‘Hornsey and Wood Green News’ through my door the other day. It is the usual ‘look how marvellous the Lib Dems are, and look how terrible Labour are’ type of thing, complete with several photos of Lynne Featherstone, the local MP. All spin.

What really got my goat though, was their use of the recent Alexandra by-election result to peddle their usual message. Funnily enough, they actually quoted the Green Party as getting more votes than we did, but they described us as ‘A tiny party in Haringey’. I don’t know the membership figures of the Lib Dems in the area, but I would bet that they are not more than twice our membership. Haringey Green Party is one of the largest local Green Parties in the whole of Greater London. Neighbouring Camden Green Party has only a few more members than us, and they hold three council seats. What is true, is that the local Lib Dems have a lot more money than we do, and this is the secret of what success they have had in Haringey. Maybe they should just offer the voters twenty pounds each for their support.

The other claim that the literature makes is that ‘Most environmentally minded people now vote Lib Dem here’. Well, if they do, they are wasting their vote. Lib Dem run councils up and down the country have a poor record on environmental issues, approving road building and airport expansion schemes. The same is true of the Lib Dems, who in partnership with Labour in the Scottish Parliament, approved this type of damaging fossil fuelled expansion. No, if you want green, you have to vote Green.

Clearly, the Lib Dems are desperate to hang onto Lynne Featherstone’s parliamentary seat in Hornsey and Wood Green, which they only won in 2005 because of local opposition to the disastrous Iraq war. Even that was something of a con. The Lib Dems were not against the Iraq war per se, they were against it ‘without a UN resolution'. Then, when the war started, without a UN resolution, they were in favour of it. Go figure, as our American friends say.

I think they will struggle to hold onto Hornsey and Wood Green next time, as the Iraq war as an issue has now faded somewhat. Also, the election of Nick Clegg as leader has shifted the Lib Dems to the right politically, whereas the people who voted for them in 2005 in this area are centre left types. We will see.


Green Gordon said...

Does this leaflet have the Guardian quote that Environmental voters should vote Green (which was actually said by a LibDem in the Guardian)? Didn;t they also once make a claim about Haringey ward in another part of London to compare it to Haringey in general? (I may have my facts slghtly muddled on this one)

Mike Shaughnessy said...

Surprisingly, no mention of The Guardian. It is the most popular newspaper around here, so I hope the voters saw that piece.

The Lib Dems literature here always twists the truth regarding their electoral standing, using all kinds of misleading information and graphs. They are quite shameless about it.

Before, I think 2002 they had hardly any council seats, but their rise since then, has built on half truths and money.

Sarah Mitchell said...

What I love is when their lovely leaflets say, in very small print at the bottom 'Printed on either recycled or environmentally friendly paper'. What, pray, is 'environmentally friendly paper' if it is not recycled paper? Hilarious.

Mark said...

1 MP and 25 councillors compared with no Green councillors sounds to me a reasonable basis for using the word "tiny".

Seems to me like you are indulging in a bit of spin yourself in implying that it's only membership numbers (which you admit you don't know) that should be used for such a comparison :-)

PS Re "environmentally friendly" paper: isn't there rather more to it than (just) recycling, such as ISO14001 and FSC Chain of Custody?

Mike Shaughnessy said...

Bythe same yardstick Mark, you'd have to call the Toties a tiny party.

Mark said...

Yeah, I'd say it's also fair to say that *in Haringey* the Conservatives are a small party. In parts of the country Labour or the Liberal Democrats could be called a small party too. I though it was the local context you were talking about, as this started with a local leaflet?

Mike Shaughnessy said...

Yes, indeed I am refering to the local context. In Haringey, the Tories have no councillors, so are they, in Haringey, a tiny party? If that's what you think, you should put that in your leaflets too, but you didn't.

James Patterson said...

Firstly, if the Green Pary is as insignificant as Mark appears to suggest, I find it odd that a local Lib Dem would condescend to comment on our humble blog.

Secondly, I suspect that the Haringey Lib Dems are a little peturbed by the prospect of local voters being offered the chance of a genuine centre-left alternative to Labour.

Mike Shaughnessy said...

I think you right James, they are are worried that we will take votes off them, and Labour will do better than 2005. The next general election is shaping up to be big Labour/Tory scrap, and the Lib Dems and probably us too, will get squeezed.

Mark said...

Who's the "you"? Not my leaflet, and I've not seen it. I was just commenting on your description which I stumbled on whilst searching for something else on the internet.

You've not convinced me that it's only ok to express View A (re Greens) if you also express View B (re Conservatives) at the same time. I don't see why they have to always be a matching pair? Just as with your previous comment about party membership, I don't see why that should be the only possible way of deciding how to describe a party.

That seems to me a very narrow and blinkered way of looking at things.

It's hard to read tone of voice on screen, but from the last couple of comments I get the impression that someone else commenting (factually and politely I hope) is a bit of shock to the system and possibly not even welcomed.

I think that's a shame, because more exchange of views (at least, moderately temperate) is good for politics and good for keeping minds from becoming too closed and only listening to what we want to hear.

Mike Shaughnessy said...

The 'you' is the local Lib Dems collectively.

It states at the top of the blog that comment is welcome. It is indeed good to talk. For the record, I like Nigel Scott your winning candidate in Alexandra.

I do think though, that you Mark have displayed a rather arrogant view.

Sarah Mitchell said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Sarah Mitchell said...

We're delighted that people outside of the party are reading the blog and are leaving comments. It would be dull if we all agreed with each other on everything - lively debate and discussion is much more interesting!