Communicate better, Lib Dem troll tells blogger

Earlier today I reacted to a snide tweet from a Lib Dem campaigner in a way that has left me uneasy. Mark Valladeres, who tweets as @HonLadyMark because his wife is Baroness Scott of Needham Market, accused me of poor communication skills, and I bit. Hard.

Now all political campaigners will tell you about how patronising Lib Dems have sneered at them, and in this age of social media it is all too easy to let it bother you. I usually don’t, but that is no excuse.

Mr Valladeres suggests that I learn to communicate better, after his Lib Dem colleague, my successor as a County Councillor, Caroline Page, warped the phrasing of a tweet to suggest that I believed news should be faked. As someone who takes the power of the media and the dedication the majority of journalists give to balance very seriously, I was pretty insulted by that. Councillor Page has form for deliberately misrepresenting me, so I snipped back at her.

Mr Valladeres’ intervention shouldn’t have rattled me, but as someone who made a living communicating, I objected to being told that Lib Dem lies were my own fault.

Now it is no secret that I have a very low opinion of Liberal Democrat activists, especially those in Woodbridge. Their behaviour during my 2004 by-election victory confirmed to me that they are the dirtiest and most hypocritical of campaigners, bending electoral law to the very edge, and indeed in one case breaking it, though this was never proven.

Among their many misdeeds during that election were telephone calls to Tory supporters suggesting that a 24 year old candidate was simply too young to be able to comprehend the complexity of Council business – a suggestion that was proven hypocritical by the first Lib Dem County Councillor to welcome me to the Council once I was elected, with the words “It’s so nice to have some young people on the Council.” They were, I recollect, spoken by Cllr Ros Scott. I’ve never forgotten the hypocrisy.

Another misdeed was when a former Lib Dem Town Councillor encountered one of my more senior leafleters on polling day. Lying through his teeth, he told this elderly gentleman that he was breaking the law by leafleting on polling day, and that if he didn’t throw his leaflets in the bin, he would call the police and have him arrested. Disgusting and disgraceful behaviour towards a man in his eighties who was upset and frightened by the incident. It is, of course, completely legal to deliver leaflets on polling day, and all political parties do so.

The same former Lib Dem Town Councillor was himself later seen wandering around the High School with a camera, attempting to take photographs of the polling station. Quite why was never clear.

These are merely three incidents from one election campaign. I fought six election campaigns in Woodbridge, five as a Tory (one as an Independent when I was just 21). In every single one of those election campaigns, the Lib Dems lied, cheated and claimed credit for someone elses achievements. None of this will surprise anyone who has ever been involved in an election campaign against the dirtiest party of them all. They even put in their campaign manual to “be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly“.

So in conclusion, I shouldn’t have told Mr Valladeres to “Bog Off” or called him patronising. I shouldn’t let their sneering attitude, or snide reference to long past events, get to me. After all, having campaigned hard for Brexit, and seen the Lib Dem Remain Fanatics lose 375 deposits in the latest General Election, I should console myself with the knowledge that at least the rest of the country sees them for what they are – shameless, wicked, malicious, nasty, and losers.

 

Culture Secretary blows into town to support Ben Gummer

Gummer-Selfie-with-Sajid-JavidTory Cabinet Minister Sajid Javid visited Ipswich today to boost the campaign of incumbent Ben Gummer, who is in the fight of his life to hold onto the seat against Labour’s council leader candidate David Ellesmere.

Mr Javid blew into town almost an hour late, after being delayed on his way from Norwich because the overhead wires were brought down by the wind. He visited a couple of shops on St Peter’s Street, answered a couple of questions from journalists, before posing for photographs – including a Gummer Selfie – with campaign volunteers.

He rushed off to meet the train back to London, facing a long trip back to the capital because of the ongoing rail problems caused by weather.

Sajid-Javid-&-Ben-Gummer-answer-journalists-questionsMr Gummer and Mr Javid didn’t face any tough questions about the claims the Tories made yesterday about Labour’s tax plans; nor did they have to explain why shopkeepers should vote for them when Labour’s business rates cut pledge is better for small businesses than the Tories business rate review.

That isn’t the point of these visits though. The real reason is to ensure that candidates like Mr Gummer, in marginal seats that the Tories absolutely have to win if they want Mr Cameron to continue as Prime Minister, can show the support they have right at the top of Government.

Loyalty is powerful in political parties, and incumbents who have shown loyalty to their party during the last five years can expect lots of visits from Cabinet level power brokers within their party. So when people ask why Ben Gummer has followed his party on almost every vote, part of it is because he wants doors to open when he goes to Ministers for a favour for Ipswich.

Mr Javid isn’t the first big hitter to visit during this election campaign – Caroline Flint came to support David Ellesmere, Labour’s candidate, yesterday. I doubt either of them will be the last.

A positive campaign? Some hope.

Today sees the start of the General Election campaign “proper”. You might be forgiven for thinking it had started weeks – or even months – ago. Residents of Ipswich, a marginal seat, have been bombarded with literature by both Tories and Labour since the beginning of the year.

At a meeting of the local Labour Party, the election campaign they promised was one of positivity, hope and change. The local Conservatives also argue that they will campaign positively, arguing that Ben Gummer’s record as the town’s MP is one to be proud of.

Will we really be able to get through the next six weeks without the parties descending into negative campaigning? I don’t mean the sort of rubbish you see in the USA, but are we really going to see the two main protagonists stick to arguing their own messages and their own policies rather than denigrating the other?

Sadly I would not put money on it. As much of the message coming from either camp is about negative elements of their opponent’s message as it is positive elements of their own. David Ellesmere and Labour will want to highlight what they perceive as the failings of the Government and Ben Gummer’s complicity in those failings. Ben Gummer and the Conservatives will want to highlight what they perceive as the failings of the Borough Council and David Ellesmere’s complicity in those failings.

Rather than spending the next six weeks taking lumps out of each other over disputed statistics, who said what to whom and who broke what promise, would it not be better to spend the time explaining to the voters what each candidate would do to make things better for the residents of Ipswich?

Unfortunately a desire to prove the other side wrong is strong in any politician. I suspect that desire will overcome any positivity or hope in this campaign. The public will hate that.