This month we received post about negative campaigning from the Lib Dems and shocking election results on the Isle of Wight
Letter of the month wins a TotalPoliticsGuide tothe2010GeneralElection queries the Lib Dems’ entitlement
Lib Dem tactics Ben Duckworth rightly queries the Lib Dems’ entitlement to the “clean politics” mantle in his interview with Nick Clegg (TP February). But he misses the most crucial point: the Lib Dems not being in government. The best way that we can judge the cleanliness of their politics is by looking at what they do and how they act ‘on the ground’. And on that score, it is well-known among politicos that the Lib Dems are usually the dirtiest electoral campaigners of all.
In the Norwich North by-election last summer, I pioneered a clean campaign pledge. The pledge was signed by the Tory and UKIP candidates, and (in a different form) Labour. Only the Lib Dems refused to sign. And it is little wonder why. Their campaign was viciously negative, replete with deliberately misleading graphs and personal attacks (full disclosure: I was their top target). Nick Clegg was caught on the back foot on Newsnight trying (and failing) to explain how such campaigning practices sat alongside cleaning upWestminster.
One of the reasons I left the Lib Dems a decade ago was because of my growing dismay at the bad name their tactics give to politics. If we politicians are going to clean up Westminster, then we need to begin by cleaning up our own act. If and when Clegg instructs local Lib Dems to cut down the personal attacks and misshapen graphs, then I will begin to take seriously his professed wish to create an honest politics in this country. Cllr Rupert Read Norwich city council
Proportional votes I noted with interest the letter published in the February edition from Keith Geddes, former president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. Clearly,
Proportional votes I noted with interest the letter published in the February edition from Keith Geddes, former president of the Convention of Scottish Local Authorities. Clearly, as a former Labour councillor in Edinburgh, and president of the then Labour-dominated Convention, he has a nostalgia for the past.
However, if he claims to be a democrat, he can not defend a system which, in Scotland, in 2003 for example, gave his party 41 per cent of the seats in local councils on 32.6 per cent of the votes. There were other unsatisfactory, to say the least, aspects to the former first-past-the-post system which are also adequately illustrated by the overall results of the 2003 Scottish local government elections.
Whatever way you look at it, the former system was utterly undemocratic and often failed to produce results which even approximated to the votes cast. It suited Labour very well which no doubt explains Keith Geddes’s feelings, but democratic it was not.
As to directly elected council leaders, this is totally unworkable. It is likely, as I think has been seen in several places, to lead to an ongoing conflict between the council and the mayor or whatever title is appropriate. To be effective, council leaderships must be capable of determining a direction of travel and sticking to it. The direct election of such leaders is almost bound to make that impossible, particularly where they are elected on the basis of some narrow agenda of their own. Cllr Alan Grant, Deputy leader, Perth and Kinross SNP Group
4 | Total Politics | March 2010
Isle of Wight shock result In your list of shock election results (TP February), surely you should have included Isle of Wight February 1974? Stephen Ross for the Liberals defeated the incumbent Mark Woodnutt overturning a Conservative majority of 17,326 to win with a majority of 7,766!
I believe Mark Woodnutt had been involved in some controversy regarding Bembridge harbour which probably contributed to his defeat. Stephen Ross retained the Isle of Wight mainly by squeezing the Labour vote to almost nothing until he stood down in 1987. Between October 1974 and 1983, he defeated Economist editor Dudley Fishburn (twice) and Virginia Bottomley. David Bell Norfolk
Tory fibs I don’t know why the media don’t pick up on more of the Conservatives fibs and distortions about
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