EXCLUSIVE: Splitting and spinning

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The ongoing farces within the Labour and Tory camps about their respective Ealing Southall candidate selections are quite eye-watering.

First we hear allegations (still undenied, as far as I’ve been able to see) that Tony Lit only approached the Tories to be their candidate after the Lib Dems rejected him. Shortly after that, a disgruntled Conservative Vice Chair defects. Then we hear that not only is Labour abandoning its all-women shortlist (as I’ve blogged before, Labour uses the option of all-women shortlists as a tool to get cronies selected and non-cronies blocked) but has blocked a viable local female candidate. And now it turns out that their selected candidate is being accused of running a dirty tricks campaign. And that’s just in four days!

The other interesting thing to emerge is that Grant Shapps appears to think that the way to win elections is not to get on with the hard work of campaigning (their FIRST campaign day is still in three days time, remember!), but to embark on some kind of dirty protest, smearing his opponents left, right and centre. One small flaw in his plan: very few Ealing Southall residents actually read Iain Dale’s blog. It is notable that his allegations don’t appear to be attracting any wider attention. The one thing he appears to have achieved is to make me think of Tom Watson as less of a shit in comparison. Significant though that may be, it is hardly much of a boost to the Tory campaign.

As a side point, it is notable at how worried the Tories clearly are about the Lib Dems at the moment. A good example yesterday was Iain Dale’s attack on Ming’s performance on PMQs. A blatant attempt to unspin what was generally considered to be a good performance, it has left him looking quite silly. It’s notable, for example, at how relatively unconcerned he was about Cameron’s performance. His obsession is trying to put Ming in as bad a light as possible gets the better of him too often. It’s just such a shame that so many people within the Lib Dems seem to think it is objective analysis.

On a slightly more serious note, one thing I’ve begun to notice is that the political blogosphere is starting to get more shrill, just as it was in the run up to the 2005 General Election campaign. I admit to being partially responsible for this – I have a party to defend like anyone else (and things like that poster lottery smear really warrant rebuttal). But it does leave me wondering whether this blog is sustainable and whether discretion will force me eventually to stop, just as I did in 2004-5. Hmmm…

…oh, and yes, the “EXCLUSIVE” is satirical again. Sorry.

9 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE: Splitting and spinning

  1. Really excellent post James, and I was considering commenting that the word “EXCLUSIVE” on blog post titles seems to be interchangeable with the word “BOLLOCKS”, but you beat me to it!

  2. Grant Shapps appears to think that the way to win elections is not to get on with the hard work of campaigning . . . but to embark on some kind of dirty protest, smearing his opponents left, right and centre.

    I think that is just a tad rich coming from us. Lib Dem Voice keeps up a steady stream of fifty word articles sniping at Tory or Labour, whether we are in election mode or not. In routinely defining ourselves in relation to the other parties, instead of confidently projecting our own narrative, we merely betray our insecurity. In the highly unlikely event that I will ever be allowed to take over the running of Lib Dem Voice, those articles will be relegated to a narrow column in a very small font. Say what you like about me, I generally reserve my venom for the Liberal Democrats!

    The one thing he appears to have achieved is to make me think of Tom Watson as less of a shit in comparison.

    And then you proceed to smear both sides yourself. Quaequam Blag!

    It is notable at how worried the Tories clearly are about the Lib Dems at the moment.

    That is a delusion right up there with the 72 virgins.

    His obsession of trying to put Ming in as bad a light as possible gets the better of him too often.

    But it’s a pity that Sir Ming feels obliged to feed the obsession with such an unswerving reliability.

    It’s just such a shame that so many people within the Lib Dems seem to think it is objective analysis.

    I formed my view of Sir Ming before I’d even heard of Iain Dale.

    It does leave me wondering whether this blog is sustainable and whether discretion will force me eventually to stop.

    Don’t do that. I still think this is the best Lib Dem Blog by miles.

  3. I have long thought the way the Tories and to a lesser extent Labour focus on the LibDems rather than each other is a sign that we’re seen as a threat, rather than the irrelevant nuisance they like to say we are…

  4. Laurence,

    I think you fail to understand the difference between a smear – i.e. a groundless accusation/insinuation intended to create doubt – and reporting a fact.

    Grant Shapps’ accusation about poster lotteries is a smear, timed to coincide with a by-election rather than reported to the police at the time which would have been an appropriate course of action. Mentioning that Labour are in the grip of a civil war in Ealing and that a deputy chair of the Conservative Association has defected to the Lib Dems are facts that no-one disputes.

  5. I think you fail to understand the difference between a smear – i.e. a groundless accusation/insinuation intended to create doubt – and reporting a fact.

    Yes, you’re probably right. I am failing to make a distinction – just the sort of distinction, in fact, which is so easily lost on the electorate. All the political parties recognise the danger of being inward looking and self-obsessed, but somehow this never seems to prevent them from unerringly falling into the trap. Every election campaign kicks off with high-minded statements about positive campaigning, and then the cat fight begins.

    By a similar token, I’m tired of hearing hardcore Liberal Democrats praising Sir Ming to the skies. (Paul Walter seems to have made a particular habit of this.) It amounts to a perfect admission that the leadership is a problem. I think that Iain Dale is much closer to the truth. It’s not so much that Sir Ming is making a negative impact upon the electorate. He’s making virtually no impact at all.

  6. If Ming is making so little impact, then how come there are so many of you out there who are so obsessed with him? As I’ve said before, if you are so interested in being constructive, then put your emphasis on the things you can change, not the things you can’t. And no-one is forcing you to read Paul Walter’s blog.

    And yes, the public can’t differentiate between knocking copy and groundless smears. That’s why smearing is such a disreputable tactic.

  7. If Ming is making so little impact, then how come there are so many of you out there who are so obsessed with him?

    Well sure we’re obsessed, but do you think the public at large is obsessed with Sir Ming? I bet they hardly even know who he is.

    No-one is forcing you to read Paul Walter’s blog.

    I know, but there’s a certain masochistic pleasure to be had in reading it.

    And yes, the public can’t differentiate between knocking copy and groundless smears. That’s why smearing is such a disreputable tactic.

    Better still would be to eschew knocking altogether. And when the party and leadership is strong, the temptation to do this naturally falls away.

  8. Getting in late on the act: the LibDem appeal is all about denial of convention by promoting the political idealism of higher universal truths mixed with a growing ability to win.
    That this ‘better way’ must be advertised as an alternative highlights just how far the established othodoxy has moved away from good sense, but it also shows how easy it is to lapse into complacency and accept the second-hand diktats of authority over the effort required for autonomous decision-making.
    It is also easy to forget that criticism is politically indicative – so arguing the merit of Ming as LibDem leader really says more about your own personal analysis of what is important.
    LibDems represent a distinct constituency of political opinion and cannot be judged by the terms we oppose – so as long as Ming is a solid LibDem (which he is), so long as he avoids holding the party as a hostage to fortune (which he has, so far) and so long as he doesn’t get involved in any scandal (which Elspeth surely wouldhave something to say about) he is doing a good job: there is always room for improvement.
    Libdemmery isn’t about perfection or brash, brassy impact; Libdemmery is about being consistent, coherent and relevant – it would simply be wrong to submit to the impatience of ambition at the expense of principle, because the situation isn’t yet so bad as to justify the necessity!

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