Thursday, May 22, 2008

Dirty, Dirty Tricks

Many, many years ago I remember one party on election day got all of its elderly voters to ring the main opponent and ask for transport; the result being that Labour activists actually drove a large amount of staunch Conservatives to the polling station. Kind of funny, devious but seen at the time as acceptable. Things have moved on and the dirty tricks in Crewe and Nantwich have taken a slightly more disturbing turn.

This needs some context. The Conservative party have already made the mistake of emailing their voter records to a radio station, how that happened we can only guess but there is a data protection issue already. This was capitalised on not to question the Conservative candidate's competence, they threw other insults at him but to try to jam the Conservative's transport line.

Sam Coates reports the stunt on Times Online thus:

"Shortly after 8am voters in Crewe received a phone call, according to Tory sources. An automated voice told them that the Tories had lost their name and addresses, and urged them to ring a phone number to find out more. That number was the Conservative's campaign office in Nantwich, used for people wanting lifts to the polling booths. The voice signed off 'Labour'. So they rang. But - Tories insist- they were mostly calling Tory HQ not to complain but to inform them of a Labour dirty tricks operation was underway"

The problem with this is it is so ham-fisted. In a campaign that has been dirty and personal, especially by the Labour candidate and her team, it is probably having the reverse of the intended effect. While the majority of Dunwoody Jr's website is about her being a strong advocate for the area, she is perhaps more likely to be perceived as willing to do anything and say anything to win. While we know national issues are the key driver, this may be a factor that contributes to her defeat. So if Gordon's unpopularity is worth a 2,000 majority for Edward Timpson, will the extra be due to the negativity such as the pic from Dunwoody's front page?

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