Tuesday, April 24, 2007

Liberal Democrats on the run in Ashenground!

Those of you who read this blog regularly will know that I am standing for the local council elections on May the 3rd in Ashenground ward, in Haywards Heath, for the Conservative party.

I have been out on the campaign trail and delivering leaflets along with the rest of the Ashenground team for some months now, and it appears that the Liberal Democrats have only just noticed. It is currently held by the Liberal Democrats at both town and district level, but up until a couple of days ago they had only delivered one election leaflet.

Well, now all that has changed. They have now rushed out a big A3 glossy leaflet and appear to be running around like headless chickens!

I would not mind quite so much though, if they were not so sailing quite so close to the wind in terms of the truth, or rather implied lack of it.

Lets be clear. Their leaflet tells no lies, but it is close. For example in one of the candidates biographies, Richard Bates is said to have campaigned against changes in waste collection. The quote is:
Richard campaigned against black sack refuse scheme and says that the 2 weekly wheelie bin collection will make the streets even less appealing
Grammar aside, (after all you would expect them to proof read a leaflet) the problem with this is it implies the Liberal Democrats are against the 2 weekly collection doesn't it? It does not actually say that though. The problem is they are not. All party groups are behind the scheme and this is nothing more than cheap political point scoring.

Then there is this, on defending services, and in particular the services at the Princess Royal Hospital, (under a picture of a very small number of banner waving Liberal Democrats amongst 7,500 members of the Conservative group, Labour group and members of the public)
Lib Dems at last years rally in support of the PRH. Liberal Democrat councillors have been in the forefront of the fight to preserve local health services in Sussex. As Christine McLean says, "We have fought for many years under both both Labour and Tory governments for adequate funding and locally accountable health services"
Where is the problem? Well all party groups have been out campaigning in support of the Princess Royal Hospital, a lot of the work has been done by the Conservative group, including the setting up the Support the PRH website. You will note that the front page of that website you will see a picture of the 3 MP's who are backing the campaign, Nick Herbert, (Arundel and South Downs) Nicholas Soames (Mid Sussex) and Norman Baker (Lewis). Nowhere does it mention parties, nor should it, as it is a cross party campaign.

Lastly there is this on supporting local groups:
"Grants to the CAB increased due to campaigning form (sic) the Lib Dem Town Cllrs. Lib Dems argued for more help for community groups. Steve Griffin says "All this can be funded from within the present budget without the need for tax rises"
What he does not say is that it is Liberal Democrat policy in the town to give town councillors an allowance, or where that money will come from!

Still, that is what I have come to expect from Liberal Democrat campaigns.


Anonymous said...

Hi Benedict.

Good to meet you last week! I'm afraid I'm not all that shocked by a Lib Dem leaflet promoting the activities of the local candidate, but I hope you enjoy the campaign and if you were standing in a Labour area I might even hold my nose and wish you luck! I'm sure we'll get to hear the result soon enough. All the best

Benedict White said...

Tpfkar, Yes it was good to meet! That said it is not promoting what they are doing I object to, after all they very clearly should, it is the terms used that imply they are against the fortnightly collection when they are very clearly in favour of it that gets me angry!

It is currently a Liberal Democrat ward, at district it it a straight fight, between Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats, and town, there is one Labour standing for a 3 member ward against tow Conservatives and 3 Liberal Democrats.

Cicero said...

Benedict- are you sure that you are not just going through a bout of Candidate-itis? (Unreasoning optimism, in the face of certain defeat). Is this the first time that you have stood?

Benedict White said...

Cicero, That is a fair question, but tha fact is that the LD's are working Ashenground harder than they have in the past in response to our campaign.

That makes me assume they are worried. What is more, from canvas returns, we are getting a more positive response on the doorstep.

They key issue, however is getting the vote out. If we can get all of (or a good proportion of) ours out, we will win. They are obviously aware of that so are working harder to get their vote out, which, bar my comments about their sailing close to the wind in terms of the truth, is fair enough.

loadofoldstodge said...

Benedict, while, as an LD, I hope you lose, as a fellow blogger, I wish you well and I hope you enjoy the experience.

My only advice is to ignore your canvass returns. Canvassing is an appallingly imprecise tool to gauge voting intentions unless you can do something like a full canvass twice a year.

I tried it once on a couple of roads in the Ward where I was active. I put out a survey as a pretext to knock on every door once, then again six months later and then again three months later.

Unless there's a lot more volatility out there than people think, people will genuinely say the first thing that occurs to tme to get rid of you. There may have once been some deference toward canvassers and people are now almost uniformly polite but the electorate are bigger liars than the politicians.

Benedict White said...

loadofoldstodge, Thanks for your support ;)

Canvasing is useful for a variety of reasons, but predicting a result accuratly is not one of them, they do give a feel though.

Mark Senior said...

Benedict , I wish you the result that all your efforts deserve a good 3rd place . Bit worried though that you are sounding more and more like Rik W in your over optimistic posts .

Benedict White said...

Mark Senior, Thank you for your kind support!

I appreaciate you don't want me to win, but the reason for the post was twofold.

1. Slagging off the LD campaign for sailing close to the wind in terms of the truth.

2. To point out that they are running around like headless chickens in a way they have not done before. It indicates that they are concerned.