Monday, 3 May 2010

A new politics? Lewisham Liberal Democrats

"Don't let anyone tell you that the only choice is the old politics", Nick Clegg, April 2010
Over recent weeks, I've been watching the leaflets fall through the door. Labour do a nice line in photos of Hilly Fields; every single thing that Steve Bullock has done has apparently been because of the Greens (rumour has it that the mayoral knight can't tie his own shoelaces without Darren Johnson having "campaigned hard" for it first); and if there are Tory leaflets, well, they must be too big for my letter box.
All the usual electoral fare. But, as we all know, what is different this time round is the rise of the Lib Dems. Sweeping all before them they promise change, honesty and a fresh, new politics.
So, why is their election material in Lewisham so negative - and their arguments resting on dodgy ground? Tamora Langley, the Lib Dem parliamentary candidate, berates Labour for having done nothing on violent crime. This is nothing more than low grade populism. Reported violent crime may have increased, but it's a big jump from there to saying that violent crime is up. As the British Crime Survey demonstrates, there are enough grey areas to make it almost impossible to say "violent crime is going up. Indeed, the Tories got caught out when they tried just this.
But Tam Langley ignores these nuances to make a blatant and sweeping partisan point that is helpful to no one and nothing but Liberal Democrat election prospects. As further evidence of her opportunism, she puts the blame on Labour. Last time I looked the Mayor of London was responsible for the Metropolitan Police, and if memory serves me correctly, he's a Tory.
Still, don't let something as inconvenient as the facts get in the way of a populist rant. This is an election after all, although I thought the Liberals were offering a "new politics".
It's also very hard to take their claims to be a new broom seriously when they draw so many of their candidates from the Westminster Village. Indeed, Ms Langley is a lobbyist with Weber Shandwick.
Now, some of my best friends are lobbyists, and it would be childish to write off Tam Langley simply because of her job. However, I'm afraid she makes that very easy for us to do when we see that she is blogging about her campaign for . . . er, lobbyists Weber Shandwick.
If the Liberals really want to offer us a new politics then they should stop publicly using their campaign experiences for the benefit of the private lobbyist companies who employ them.


David said...
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David said...

Glad you picked up on the LD's old school scaremongering strategy.

The Lewisham Lib Dems under Chris Maines' leadership are notorious for running very aggressive, and often highly personal negative campaigns and this election has seen them ramp it up another notch. The worst of it was seen in Lewisham East with Heidi Alexander being personally "blamed" for the War in Iraq, MPs expenses, knife crime, etc, etc.

NB: Labour has worked quite closely with the Greens in Lewisham on a couple of issues and we share a very good working relationship.