Not having been involved in Julia Goldsworthy’s campaign, it would be foolhardy of me to pretend to know everything that happened in this campaign. Iain Dale however, despite having a campaign in North Norfolk at the time of his own to fight, knows better than me, claiming that Julia “won her seat in part by taking advantage of the homophobic attacks on the Tory candidate Ashley Crossley.”
Shocking! And very unfortunate given the whole Bermondsey debacle. But when pushed to substantiate these claims, the best Iain can do is come up with this email by an unnamed individual:
You are absolutely right that she took political advantage of Ashley’s situation when the most honourable course of action would have been not to refer to it in order to demonstrate the irrelevance of someone’s sexuality. She published Lib Dem election literature saying the Tories were ‘in turmoil’ and quoting several of those who were behind the homophobia mentioning Ashley’s ‘tantrums’ amongst other things. She also sent round a leaflet entitled “Who do you want as your next MP?” showing an unflattering picture of Candy Atherton next to a youthful, smiling, Julia – the insinuation clearly that you really don’t want someone looking like Candy as your MP.
So let’s get this straight. If the Tories choose to rip themselves to shreds because so many of them are homophobic bigots, the Lib Dems should pretend on their leaflets that the Tories are united behind their candidate. What is more, they should only ever use flattering pictures of their opponents and the worst possible photos they can find of their own candidates, in order to even the odds. Most importantly, she must never appear young, or smile.
After all, that is EXACTLY what the Tories would do, isn’t it?
You often hear Labour and Tory activists mutter about Lib Dem “dirty tricks.” I can honestly say that, although I’m quite sure some Lib Dems are badly behaved, I’ve seen no evidence that the Lib Dems have a worse record than any of the other parties. Indeed, I would say we have a better record, but I realise I can’t possibly have an objective view on the subject. Readers of this blog will know that I have my criticisms of Lib Dem campaigning – my chief bugbear being scare stories reliant on selective crime statistics – but I’ve seen far worse put out by other parties.
This is a perfect example of how, when you look in detail at the substantive claims, it adds up to little more than the shrill outrage of a few sore losers who can’t admit to their own failings.