EXCLUSIVE (really this time!): Tories brag about dirty tricks

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Leading Romford Conservative activist Billy Taylor and personal friend of Greg Hands MP has been bragging about stealing (sic) election literature:

6 Romford Tories were out delivering leaflets today (Sunday 8th) in Ealing and managed not just to deliver a whole polling district, but we managed to steal over 150 Lib Dem leaflets and 20 Labour out of letterboxes!!! (my emphasis)

Surely theft is illegal? Where do the Tories dig up these criminals?

The comment has now been taken down from the Facebook group “Ealing Southall by-election Broughton Road Sector office” (an admission of guilt?) but – funnily enough – I did have the wit to make a screen grab at the time. Evidence of his posting can also still be seen on Billy’s profile.

Tories steal leaflets

Billy Taylor

Conservative campaign organiser Grant Shapps has taken a high minded view against ‘dirty tricks’ on this campaign so far. I will be writing to him to see what action he will be taking in light of this evidence.

28 thoughts on “EXCLUSIVE (really this time!): Tories brag about dirty tricks

  1. hahah no.. just a realist.

    As it happens I had a long discussion with a barrister last eyar about the legality/illegality of this. Technically speaking, unless the leaflets are addresses directly to a homeowner it is not “theft” apparently.

    The reason it came up was ecause one of your colleagues was follwoing my delivery round and removing my leaflets from doors btw. I told him he was a c*nt and left it at that.

  2. Its well known all parties do this, albeit I’ve not heard it boasted about in this manner.

    I’ve always been told to ensure that leaflets are posted fully through the letterbox to prevent our unscrupulous opponents from taking them.

    (Laurence/Dizzy: Firefox 2 does spell-checking automatically (at least mine does) only minor problem is its default is US English)

  3. I use Firefox 2 and was not aware of any built in spell checking. I had to install the plugin and there was a choice of US or UK spelling, as well as every other language under the sun.

  4. Next time you see a Tory (or a member of Labour) publicly bragging about his mischiefs in the internet, submit the URL of the page immediately to Google and to Internet archive. Even if it will be taken down, it will soon be visible in the Google cache, and later, but permanently, in the Internet archive. Page shots are good, but as they can be tampered, Google and Internet archive are more reliable proofs. I wish also the other Lib Dems will take heed of this tip.

  5. Fair comment, although I’m not sure it would work with Facebook as you need a login in order to view both pages.

  6. The Lib Dim deliverers must have been behaving irresponsibly by not pushing leaflets through properly as this can draw the attention of burglars.

  7. Excuses, excuses. What is more likely is that the Tories are reaching into letterboxes and stealing them. Either they are tough on crime, or they aren’t!

  8. Isn’t really the case of the pot calling the kettle black.
    All parties do it. LibDems are no exception. In fact they return to campaign HQ’s with any they find. They are not goody two shoes and play as dirty as other parties when the gloves are off

    It has gone on for so long I doubt whether anybody has ever considered the legality of it. What does it matter anyway it’s all part of the game.

    Admittedly the LibDems are told to push literature into the box so it can’t be taken by other parties. That’s the instruction but some of the boxes are so dificult I doubt everybody does it. Remember the dogs that yap at the boxes.

    Libdems say they are now tough on crime so what’s the difference.

  9. Why does anyone think that a) anybody actually reads an election leaflet, and b) if they did, that it would make the slightest difference to their voting intentions. Never were so many trees culled in vain . . .

  10. Ah, Laurence, I see you are back in “ordinary voter” mode.

    Do you really think parties wouldn’t produce so much election literature if it didn’t make a difference? Don’t you think we might have cottoned on by now?

    But then, what do I know? I’ve only been part of dozens of council and parliamentary byelections. Clearly we must have only won these out of sheer luck.

  11. I’m so sorry I keep pissing you off James, I really am. Not least because you’re my favourite Lib Dem, which must annoy you even more! Richard Dawkins says it best:

    Why are forest trees so tall? Simply to overtop rival trees. A “sensible” utility function would see to it that they were all short. They would get exactly the same amount of sunlight, with far less expenditure on thick trunks and massive supporting buttresses. But if they were all short, natural selection couldn’t help favouring a variant individual that grew a little taller. The ante having been upped, others would have to follow suit. Nothing can stop the whole game escalating until all trees are ludicrously and wastefully tall. . . . Homely analogies abound. At a cocktail party, you shout yourself hoarse. The reason is that everybody else is shouting at top volume. If only the guests could come to an agreement to whisper, they’d hear one another exactly as well with less voice strain and less expenditure of energy. But agreements like that don’t work unless they are policed. Somebody always spoils it by selfishly talking a bit louder, and, one by one, everybody has to follow suit. A stable equilibrium is reached only when everybody is shouting as loudly as physically possible, and this is much louder than required from a “rational” point of view. Time and again, cooperative restraint is thwarted by its own internal instability.

  12. It’s not so much that he’s done it that bothers me (I was tempted yesterday but resisted), it’s that he’s openly boasted about it in a fairly public location.

    It’s probably true that activists from all parties do do this sort of thing, but to actively shout about it in a way that makes it look as if you’re proud of doing it is a little OTT.

    But agree with the point that they should be pushed completely through the door, not a problem then.

  13. Dizzy says… “As it happens I had a long discussion with a barrister last eyar about the legality/illegality of this. Technically speaking, unless the leaflets are addresses directly to a homeowner it is not “theft” apparently.”

    I doubt that last bit is correct in law. There are specific provisions about addressed mail but theft doesn’t depend on the property being clearly identified.

    Did he/she say why not? Theft = dishonest appropriation of property belonging to another with the intent to permanently deprive.

    In any case they can’t have been advising on a specific set of facts. The tricky bit as regards theft in this situation is the mens rea of dishonesty. However that seems to be present here as they have admitted they were stealing.

    That would seem to suggest that they didn’t believe their actions were in accordance with the standards of ordinary people which is the relevant part of the legal test for dishonesty.

    It is also potentially a specific electoral offence – s115 RPA.

  14. Ah, yes… the “But everybody does it!” defence. Dizzy Thinks, ladies and gentlemen!

    (Locally, we’ve had Tories stealing personally addressed hand-delivered literature and dropping it in local mailboxes… meaning that the recipients receive their opponents’ literature postage due. Perhaps great legals minds could cast a ruling on that one.)

  15. Wasn’t it Lord Young who combined boasting about doing this with FRAMING another party with walking on some wet concrete?? Tories are top toff tieves.

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