Wednesday 10 November 2010

Acceptable Campaigning

I have been fascinated by the judgement against Labour's Phil Woolas, who has been stripped of his parliamentary seat after a judge found him guilty of telling lies during his election campaign.

There are all sorts of issues at stake here and it is interesting that it is this issue that has opened up the first of what I suspect will be many divisions within the Parliamentary Labour Party.  Personally I think the judgement is important and right.  Politics is a tough game and the election process needs to challenge what both individuals and the party they represent stand for - but telling lies cannot be part of that.  That is why I am astonished by these comments from Labour MP Graham Stringer in a BBC Online article about the issue:
"If the courts get involved in elections when people go over the top on policy and sometimes tell lies then we are going to have a very strange electoral process in future," 
That quote is quite clear to me, this is a Labour MP saying that lies are acceptable in an election campaign.  It is no wonder that people have problems with politics.

Personally, I think it will be the Lib Dems who are most worried about this.  I have often thought their by-election campaigning is on the edge of acceptability.  As an example they have often used dubious graphs that misrepresent results in previous elections or twist history to make it a European campaign relevant to a local by-election. We should not forget that they are also guilty of one of the nastiest bits of political campaigning ever when Simon Hughes stood against gay rights campaigner Peter Tatchell (who I don't believe had come out at the time).  Simon Hughes is, of course, now the Lib Dem Deputy Leader.

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