Is this a straight forward lie?

Got in this lunchtime to find this Lib Dem leaflet on the doorstep. Have a read of what they’ve written.

Lib Dem Leaflet, May 2009

Hmmmm….

Problem is Lib Dems, I’m a bit of an electoral geek, and I don’t think that the 7th seat in the East of England region in 2004 went to the Conservatives. Let’s have a look at the actual results shall we?

Eastern [Party List System] – (7 Seats)

Con 465526 30.82% (3 Seats)
UKIP 296160 19.61% (2 Seats)
Lab 244929 16.21% (1 Seat)
Lib Dem 211378 13.99% (1 Seat)
Independent (Martin Bell) 93028 6.15%
Green 84068 5.56%
BNP 65557 4.34%
English Democrats 26807 1.77%
Respect 13904 0.92%
Independent (John James Naisbitt) 5137 0.34%
Pro Life Alliance 3730 0.24%

Now of course, for Euro elections we use the d’Hondt system, so the seats were carved out as follows.

Robert Kay Con 465526 (Seat 1)
Jeffrey Titford UKIP 296160 (Seat 2)
Richard Howitt Lab 244929 (Seat 3)
James Samuels Con 232763 (Seat 4)
Andrew Duff Lib Dem 211378 (Seat 5)
Adrian Key Con 155175 (Seat 6)
Tom Wise UKIP 148080 (Seat 7)
Beth Kelly Lab 122465
Gloria Mereclew Con 116382
Chris White Lib Dem 105689
Martin Bell Ind 93028
Margaret Wright Green 84068

What did the leaflet say?

“The election for the final seat in the East of England will be a close finish between electing another hard-working Liberal Democrat in Linda Jack, or a fourth Conservative”

Really? The figures say otherwise. The figures show that the seventh seat was won by a UKIP candidate and that the person who missed out was a Labour candidate. The Lib Dems and the Conservatives didn’t even come close to getting the seventh seat. In fact, in order to have been challenging for that seventh seat the Lib Dems would have had to have polled an extra 90,000 votes, around 6% of the voters.

Is this kind of thing allowed? The Lib Dem leaflet is a total misrepresentation of the last Euro vote.

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  • http://www.confessingevangelical.com John H

    Lib Dems lying through their teeth in election leaflets, especially about voting figures? What is the world coming to?

    I remember years ago taking a Lib Dem canvasser to task because of a particularly mendacious chart on their handout. You know the sort of thing: Conservatives 36%, Lib Dems 25% (shown as a bar just very slightly shorter than the Tory figure), Labour 24% (shown as a short stub barely visible next to the other two). Conclusion: “Only the Lib Dems can beat the Tories here!” Etc.

    Another old trick is comparing local election results with the last general election and vice versa, depending on what favours them the most. Looks like they may have tried some variant on that trick in this case.

  • http://sihollett.blogspot.com Si

    The Lib Dems haven’t lied – they didn’t mention last time there, but this time Labour would be damaged severely (due to Brown and the fed up nation) and the minor parties would be bigger (due to the recent expense sleaze).

    At least the Lib Dems are savvy enough to realise who their biggest threat is – a vote for the Greens is a vote that very likely would have gone to the Lib Dems. The big minor parties are close on many issues to one of the main parties – Lib Dems/Greens, Tories/UKIP and Labour/BNP. They are also less EU loving than their counterparts.
    Loves Europe as a powerful, but far from voters, gravy train: Lab, LD
    Pushing for Reform of the EU so it’s accountable and less of the snouts-in-troughs: Con, Greens
    Hates Europe: UKIP, BNP

    The thing is that a vote for the Greens will be a vote for the Greens – they look like they might get a seat, you’d be looking at something like this (votes are approx):
    Con 500000 (Seat 1)
    LD 255000 (Seat 2)
    Con 250000 (Seat 3)
    UKIP 170000 (Seat 4)
    Con 166667 (Seat 5)
    Lab 160000 (Seat 6)
    ??? ~125000 (Seat 7)
    The question marks are the Greens, an Independent/Jury Team person, a second Lib Dem or a 4th Tory … The downfall of Labour (and UKIPs implosion and rivals on the right wing anti-EU brigade splitting the vote) means that, even though the Lib Dems will gain a few votes, so will the little parties and that could be costly.

    The Lib Dems campaign, while bad electoral maths, is still rather clever – hurt your big rivals by saying that voting for them will let the ideological enemies in as they have no chance. Classic Lib Dem tactics for elections.

  • http://cllrheenan.blogspot.com Mark Heenan

    I’m afraid this is a total fib and it is totally legal. Uniquely, political advertising is the only type of advertising where you don’t need to prove the accuracy of your claims, so lying isn’t illegal, as long as it’s not libelous.

  • Jim_UK

    They’ve been doing exactly the same thing in Watford for several years now. http://thethunderdragon.co.uk/2007/09/fibbing-lib-dems-and-their-bar-charts.html

    • Mark Senior

      Your link is rather out of date , Ian Oakley has zero chance of winning Watford , thank goodness that repulsive man has met his just desserts , shame his helpers are still at large .

      • Jim_UK

        They are still doing the same thing now, every leaflet they deliver has that misleading barchart on it along with a myriad of other lies.

  • Mark Senior

    Nope , not a lie at all . The only person mentioning the result last time is you . The LibDems are saying that the 7th seat this election is between the Conservatives getting a 4th seat and the LibDems with UKIP who got the 7th seat last time and Labour who were also close falling out of contention .
    This may or may not be a certainty but it is a reasonable statement to make given the changes in party support over the past 5 years .

  • cheshireboy

    As explained above the Lib Dem claim on this leaflet IS actually more valid than might appear.

    And, of course, other parties NEVER mislead on their leaflets????

    What about the Conservatives in the Crewe & Nantwich byelection who claimed their candidate was the ONLY local candidate, when in fact the only truly local candidate (i.e. resided in the constituency) was an Independent. And the Lib Dem lived closer than the Conservative!

  • Adam

    Lib Dems lying on leaflets is standard fair I’m afraid. While I disagree with most other parties more often, the Lib Dems are by far the dirtiest party.

  • revsimon

    “Nope , not a lie at all . The only person mentioning the result last time is you”

    Exactly right. You are either misunderstanding or misrepresenting this leaflet-only you are talking about the result last time, this leaflet is simply predicting what is happening in this election this year

  • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

    So to sum up what people are saying, it’s OK to do this because anybody can have a go at plucking two names out of a hat and pretending that they’ll be in seventh and eighth place, and then claim that it’s “neck and neck” between them, with absolutely no evidence whatsoever to support such a supposition?

    Right…

  • sound

    Mind you, how anyone can claim to be Christian and vote conservative is beyond me and always has been…..perhaps our Archbishops could go just that bit further and advise Christians that voting conservative is tne next worst thing to voting for the BNP

    • Wicked conservative

      That is a quite extraordinary claim, Sound. Care to elaborate further, or is this just the standard “Jesus was nice, conservatives are nasty, so people who follow Jesus can’t be conservative” leftie nonsense?

      Which particular elements of conservative philosophy are totally incompatible with being a professing Christian? For your argument to be true, there must be something uniquely bad and unchristian about conservatism, which I find hard to believe.

      • sound

        Who on earth gave you the idea that Jesus was ‘nice’? That’s a pretty weird reading of the Gospels.
        Take any conservative mandifesto.. here’s a bit from William Hague’s era:

        “We want to set people free so that they have greater power over their own lives. That is what I have always believed.”
        And what was it Thatcher said: “And, you know, there is no such thing as society. There are individual men and women”

        Both at the heart of conservative philosphy, both the very antithesis of what it means to be Christian. In Christian thinking, people are free to serve each other. Check out Luke 22:24-30..check our what Jesus did at the last supper…all about society, all about giving up power over your own life for the good of others…

        • http://www.confessingevangelical.com John H

          Sound: what Margaret Thatcher actually said was this:

          Who is society? There is no such thing. There are individual men and women and there are families and no government can do anything except through people and people look to themselves first. It is our duty to look after ourselves and then also to help look after our neighbour and life is a reciprocal business and people have got the entitlements too much in mind without the obligations, because there is no such thing as an entitlement unless someone has first met an obligation.

          Now you may or may not agree with what she’s saying there, but it’s a long way from the meaning usually ascribed to her comments as (mis)quoted. (In the same article by David Willetts in which those words are quoted, Willetts also says that Thatcher “confessed to Frank Field that her great regret was that there was not much more charitable giving by the rich whose taxes she had cut.”)

          As for Hague’s comment, another way of looking at it – given the context – would be to say he believes that the government should have less power over people’s lives.

          The logic of your position seems to be, “Jesus says (by word and example) that we should relinquish power over our own lives and serve others rather than ourselves. Therefore the government should take power from us and make us serve others.”

        • Wicked conservative

          What John said. Mrs T did not actually say that. That quotation is pretty near the top of the list of Things Everyone Knows Are True That Aren’t Actually True – what Homer J Simpson, the greatest philosopher of our age, called “widely believed facts”.

          Full speech here: http://www.margaretthatcher.org/speeches/displaydocument.asp?docid=106689

          She is making the point that there is only so much the government can do in social policy, without people taking responsibility for themselves.

          I would also point out that there are many different kind of conservatives. There are fiscal conservatives, your “small-state” types who believe strongly in low taxes, low regulation, privatisation, etc. Then there are social conservatives, who are concerned with cultural and moral issues like abortion, strong families and strong communiies, but who are relatively unconcerned about economics (just as the first group are often indifferent to cultural and moral issues, or at least don’t see them as any of the government’s business). A third group are foreign policy conservatives, the dreaded “neocons”, whose core beliefs are to do with a strong national defence. Then you have people like me, somewhere between the three (Christian agnostic, pro-gay marriage, reluctantly pro-choice in early pregnancy though personally opposed to abortion, very pro-free speech, pro-capitalism, pro-the War on Terror, sceptical about e.g. railway privatisation, smoking bans, speech codes, political correctness).

          Generalisations about conservatism are meaningless.

          • sound

            I agree with you that generalisations about conservatism are meaningless, and thank you for making that point. But ditto generalisations about liberalism. And that is why I made the point really. Because you will find Peter’s whole stance, and the stance of ‘conservative’ groups (like Anglican Mainstream, Standfirm, Reform, FCA) are based around generalisations about liberalism, which just don’t ‘fit’ either. Mainstream Anglicanism is liberal at its very heart; it was born of a desire to be free from the constraints of ‘conservative’ catholicism. I will defend the right to be ‘liberal’ for as long as it takes.
            But how one could be a fiscal conservative and a Christian still beats me!

            • Wicked conservative

              It’s very simple: Christian fiscal conservatives believe that they are better placed to make decisions about how to use their money to further the common good than the government is, or indeed can be.

              Also, I’m not sure that it’s fair to put Peter in the same category as Anglican Mainstream. I think you would struggle to find any unjust generalisations that Peter has made.

              • sound

                I think you will find that Peter either is/has been Anglican Mainstream forum moderator……

                • Wicked conservative

                  While it is entirely possible that PO is a forum moderator at AM – I no longer bother much with AM – it is entirely irrelevant to my point.

                  PO’s tone is a good deal more humble and reflective than that of AM, and his depth of reflection is on a different intellectual plane from most of their posts, unless you think that believing gay sex to be wrong is in and of itself bigoted or an unjust generalisation, which is a point of view I suppose, but not one that is conducive to helpful debate about sexuality.

                  I’m still waiting to be pointed to some of Peter’s unjust generalisations.

                  • sound

                    I think the suggestion, made by Peter, that people like Gene Robinson are leading people on a ‘wide path to hell’ is about the most unhelpful generalisation one could make in this debate, don’t you? I quote from
                    http://www.peter-ould.net/2008/07/14/will-gene-perform-hocus-pocus/comment-page-1/#comments

                    “The issue with Gene Robinson is that he interprets the Bible incorrectly and that he, and many others, are leading people down a wide path to hell.”

                    The issue is about dialogue. Peter is convinced that active homosexuality is clearly a sin and that the bible can only be interpreted that way. I am very clear the bible is unclear about anything other than some very specific contexts. Serious biblical scholars are divided about the issue. We have no choice but to dialogue, and the ‘conservatives’ are slowly recognising that the ‘liberals’ are not going anywhere. So we have to find ways to get along…I respect Peter’s views. I think they are completely wrong. But he still has a valued place within the church. But I do object to the judgemental attitude he takes with phrases like ‘leading people to hell’.

                    • Wicked conservative

                      Firstly, judgmental is a pretty meaningless “boo word” nowadays. I’m not sure it adds much to the debate. What does it even mean?

                      If it is judgmental to say that “the issue with Gene Robinson is that he interprets the Bible incorrectly and that he, and many others, are leading people down a wide path to hell”, what are we to make of the man who referred to a “wicked and adulterous generation”, called people a “nest of vipers” and “hypocrites”, and prophesied about “false prophets” leading people astray, and indeed to hell and destruction?

                      Peter is not making a generalisation, so much as affirming the clear biblical teaching that those who propagate false teaching and distort the Gospel risk damnation for themselves and others. The metaphor of the wide path to hell is straight from Jesus’ own mouth.

                      Now you may think that Peter is wrong about sexuality – I do, as a non-believer (though as an ex-believer I believe his is the most tenable position on sexuality from the Christian perspective) – but I do not think that this quote is particularly unreasonable or inappropriate.

                    • sound

                      ok wicked.. well we disagree about that.. i think the ‘road to hell’ comment is a vast and inappropriate generalisation.. but I am glad we do agree that peter is wrong about the matter of sexuality.
                      If you want to know what judgemental means, read the parable of the tax collector and pharisee….a parable told “To some who were confident of their own righteousness and looked down on everybody else”

                    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                      Which obviously you aren’t applying to me, right?

                    • sound

                      Blimey Peter, do you think Jesus’ parable somehow doesn’t apply to you?

                    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                      You called me “judgemental” and then followed it up with Jesus’ parable about the pharisee and the tax collector. So let me ask me the question again – do you think that I’m the pharisee or the tax collector?

                    • sound

                      You said:
                      “he, (Gene Robinson) and many others, (one of which would be me) are leading people down a wide path to hell.”
                      So, which do you think you are Peter?

                    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

                      Oh no, you don’t get out of it that easily.

                      You raised the issue, you tell me – do you see me as the pharisee or the tax collector?

                      I’m going to spam all your comments until you answer.

        • Wicked conservative

          In addition, if the government takes money from us by force for the purposes of redistribution, I fail to see how that counts as virtue or charity in any meaningful sense.

          Jesus said to the rich young man, “sell all you have and give it to the poor”, not “give half of everything you have to the government so that they can redistribute it to people they decide are deserving through a deeply inefficient bureaucratic process”.

          • ryan

            Not to put words in Sound’s mouth, but Jesus preached a lot about social justice. New labour, for all their flaws, did decrease child opportunity whereas the Conservatives are the part of millionaires (much of Simon Heffer’s philosophy consists of saying those who earn enough to pay the top rate of tax aren’t “rich” , which is more self-revelatory than he probably intends). Opposing the minimum wage, for example, as many in the tory party did seems pretty unchristian to me.

            • http://sihollett.blogspot.com Si

              did you mean to say “decrease child opportunity”? Sounds bad from a social justice viewpoint.

              The problem we have is that we are voting for fallen people in fallen parties – no party is perfect, or even has the high ground over all the others.

              The Tories have some policies a lot better than Labour – decreasing the abortion time limit, while still a long way off, is better than the Labour policy… Likewise New Labour’s ‘equality’ crusade deliberately wanting to remove an amendment that protects free speech.

              The most un-Christian policy of Labour is basically to make a load of new laws, both pushing out religion, and filling the void left by it (a bit chicken/egg) – effectively it’s the state defining morality. The Tories are against this idea (see DC’s huge plan for reform from this week), however his solution isn’t great either.

              Both have their flaws on social justice, both have their flaws on various other things, Labour is much more against freedom, and for me that’s the decider. Then again, I’m likely to vote Green anyway, as I like their European policies, even if I don’t buy their philosophy, or national policies.

              • ryan

                “Opportunity” should be “poverty”. O the irony!

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  • revsimon

    I do think you should be a bit more careful about your language Peter. You can’t get more judgemental than (wrongly) implying that the Lib Dems are lying. I do believe that Christians have a huge responsibility to be part of the political process and to do so by witnessing mutual respect and constructive debate, unfortunately your opening blog post does neither. Is this really the most important issue relating to Thursday’s elections-not the future of the EU, responding to the recession and fighting off the far right?

    • http://www.peter-ould.net Peter Ould

      I asked whether people think this is a lie, not actually stated that it is in the main blog post. In the post I talk about a “total misrepresentation of the last Euro vote” which the leaflet is under any degree of examination. The bar chart is unconnected to the Euro elections and the 7th and 8th place nonsense has no relation to the actual outcome in 2004.

  • http://adrianshort.co.uk/ Adrian Short

    There are many examples of the Lib Dems using similar leaflets all around the country. I’ve written about a few of them here:

    http://adrianshort.co.uk/2009/05/15/418/

    In my article I’ve been quite categorical that I think the Lib Dems are lying. In one particular leaflet (Sutton & Cheam) the bar chart isn’t even labelled so unless you know where the statistics come from you won’t even know they’re general election figures, quite apart from understanding the lack of relevance of those figures to the European vote.

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