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.
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.
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.
I spent yesterday afternoon and evening in Ealing Southall constituency (I would have been there earlier, but I had a prior meeting). Impressed with the Lib Dem campaign HQ, which is conveniently placed and just right for our needs.
I thought that there was something amiss about the Tory campaign when I saw that extraordinary video on Webcameron of Cameron adlibbing desperately to break the awkward silence. Very odd footage that appears to serve no purpose. It wasn’t about the candidate, or the area, or the issues. For a man who works in radio, Tony Lit doesn’t say much does he? Or perhaps they were trying to keep him quiet.
My suspicions that the Tories weren’t running a serious campaign seemed to be confirmed when I got to see what they are actually delivering. A tabloid newspaper that looks like it has been designed by a not particularly competent amateur who is trying to copy the Lib Dem style. Too much filler, not much substance, too few photos. Half a page of newspaper quotes about Cameron, half of which are more than a year old? A whole page wasted on listing councillor details? They’ve made a brave stab at a bar chart, conveniently ignoring the fact that they are third in terms of actual votes (next time you hear a Tory moaning about a Lib Dem bar chart, laugh hollowly). This is the sort of literature you would expect to see in a low profile, “up and coming” non-target election campaign, not a key target byelection.
Then, pop over to the Facebook group of the Ealing Southall Byelection Virtual Campaign Base and you find that, despite the Conservatives’ high presence on Facebook, it has just a handful of members. Its first Campaign Day is in a week’s time. That’s almost halfway through the campaign!
If the Tories were serious about this campaign, they would be spending less time producing bizarre videos and more time producing decent election literature (produced by one of their professional organisers rather than an enthusiast). If they were serious, they’d have an actual campaign base, not a virtual one. I’m sorry Arleen, but it looks like you’re going to have to wait a bit for your Christmas.
UPDATE: I can’t believe Tony Lit named one of his children after David Cameron! Creepy or what?