Labour being devious and dishonourable in its use of statistics

I received a leaflet from Brighton and Hove Labour Party this morning that has made my blood boil. On the front page Labour has given the votes cast in the 2010 general election. It inevitably puts the Greens in fourth place and says “voting Green or Lib Dem just helps the Conservatives here”.

It adds “If you are serious about getting rid of the Conservatives you need to vote Labour”. In many wards this is plainly untrue. Labour is spreading a lie.

This may reflect the total votes cast in the three constituencies ….. and those parts of Lewes District that come within Brighton Kemptown, but is not relevant to these local elections. This tactic by Labour is totally unacceptable. It is devious and misleading. It suggests that Labour is so desperate that it is content to lie in order to shore up its support.

I could produce a table showing the results from last year: “Elected 2 Conservatives, 1 Green and no Labour. Don’t waste your vote on Labour”. This would be equally devious and misleading.

I am fed up with this tactic of Labour. It is gutter politics. It fails to address the “isshhoos”. Craig Turton has called on me to focus on issues. In response, I call on Craig to disassociate himself from the tactic employed in this leaflet.

I have been undecided how to vote in May. In fact I had considered splitting my vote between Labour and the Greens. Because of this leaflet I will definitely cast one vote against Labour and in favour of the Greens. If this tactic is repeated I will definitely cast two votes against Labour and in favour of the Greens. Now, I may live in a ward that elects two or three councillors. If it is three (and if the Greens can find enough candidates to field a full slate), I will cast all three votes against Labour if they repeat this tactic for a third time.

By repeating this lie, Labour is running a dishonest and dishonourable campaign and I condemn them for it.

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34 Responses

  1. ‘Politicians in presenting the figures to suit them shock!’

    It’s probably the end of civilization as we know it.

  2. I won’t be using that sort of campaigning on my literature. I don’t think its the best way to “do politics”, and like you say we should be focused on the issues.

    Certainly however in some wards its a clear Tory/Labour split, and we don’t have AV so the Greens or Liberals might not stand a chance, but yes the issues are the most important, no one should be elected just because they are “the other lot”.

  3. I was incensed by the claim that Greens voted against removal of the Hove cycle lane, presumably because having worked with Labour to save it, they then voted against the entire budget. This is mendacious toss, juvenile politics at its worst.

    It’s clear Brighton has a progressive majority, and that for the time being, that progressive vote is split between Greens and Labour. The progressive future is based on them working well together, but Labour don’t seem to be able to acclimatise and are being their tribalist worst.

  4. Yes, it’s easy to forget that Brighton Kemptown has over 16,000 voters who live in Lewes District. No doubt we shall see equally misleading Lib Dem graphs there. The squeeze message/”it’s going to be neck and neck here” only works if you deliver it to your own supporters or your likely supporters. If it is a blanket delivery then it persuades as many people to vote against you as it does for.

  5. BPB – I think you protest a little too much. The Labour and Green Parties spent most of the general election campaign claiming that each was was best placed to beat the Tories – and I know you think (in my view wrongly) that Labour were more guilty of over using this tactic, but both parties drummed it into our heads at every possible opportunity. If you are looking for a reason to justify not voting Labour then its up to you, but this is not ‘totally unacceptable, ‘gutter politics’, ‘dishonest and dishonourable’. The other thing is that, although I haven’t seen the leaflet you are referring to, as far as I am aware, the numbers are correct. I know the Green Party don’t like the fact that they came fourth across the City, but they did – and I believe that is still true if you exclude the Lewes District voters.

  6. To judge by the mood in Westbourne, Labour has done itself special damage with a spurious graph, and I should not be surprised if the Greens overtake Labour in Westbourne.

    Elsewhere, a man took a Green production and said that he had been so disgusted at the amount of LibDem pornography landing on his mat that he wrote to protest – and got more of it, in the form of a letter from some sort of “Chairman” saying that he should vote…LibDem. The man remarked that that must be a working definition of brassneck.

  7. As I recall in the GE the Greens predicted Labour third in everything they published. That turned out to be wrong and I don’t think anyone (including Bappy) ever recanted on that.

    It’s an accurate graph. A useful tool. And the voters are intelligent enough to get the message it seeks to promote.

  8. Bar graphs are nonsense whoever’s responsible. I recall the Greens making much of the citywide Euro result from 2009, which has no more (or less) relevance to local elections than the Westminster 2010 outcome.

    AV will render bar graphs pretty much pointless – in Westminster elections at least. Which is one good reason to support it.

    Good to see Mr Hawtree remains focused on the key issue of this election – which is of course who will come second in Westbourne.

    I do wonder if the Greens aren’t guilty of fighting the last war – a far worse sin than bar graphs, in the grand scheme of getting rid of the current council leadership. By my reckoning they are targeting just one Tory seat – the one in Goldsmid – that they have a serious chance of winning.

  9. A huge overreaction here – as others have said, the Greens are more than happy to trot out any old election result, be it the 2009 Europeans, the Goldsmid by-election from the same year, last year’s St Peter’s result – to justify voting for them.

    This was the General Election last year. It doesn’t include the Lewes district figures. It does show that even last May at the height of national unpopularity, Labour still totalled almost as many votes as the Tories in Brighton and Hove – fact.

    The Greens are contesting seats on a realistic basis in just 8 wards, only one Tory held seat amongst them. Labour are fighting to win in 14 or more wards – the same number as the Tories.

    I stand by that graph, I stand by the claim that if people really are serious about getting rid of this Tory administration then it is Labour who are best placed in terms of citywide votes last year, in terms of the number of seats being fought, and in terms of ousting Tory councillors and being able to win a majority.

  10. i think it’s good to see a younger generation represented by harris fitch not finding this sort of politics agreeable, whoever does it – lets have cllrs like him and not like dan wilson please ( mind you i’ll buy baron pepperpot a bike if dan wilson gets elected in regency)

    that said clive is right that progressive parties, including the greens, should target viable tory seats, but maybe greens are targetting lib dems as their part of the overall battle

    • @greenpartymember
      Problem is that the Lib Dem councillor(s) in Brunswick are emphatically not in coalition with the Tories at a local level.

      In the last four years, I’d be surprised to find a single point of political dispute in which Paul Elgood and David Watkins (now independent) have backed the Conservative administration. Tell me if I’m wrong.

      • Interesting question. But my impression is that Paul in particular sits on the fence and waits to see which way the wind is blowing (typical Lib Dem!), in which case his eventual position on any given issue is not particularly significant.

  11. @greenpartymember

    I’ll buy Baron Pepperpot a KitKat if I win in Regency. Damn it. I’ll buy him two. And four fingered ones too. That’s the man I am. 😉

    • I thought Regency already had two Kitcats, and both with four fingers. I suspect after the election so will the council. Not the most loyal of Labour Party members am I…. 😦

  12. In all fairness, I don’t think voters in the Pavilion wards are going to buy it.

    They know they’ve got a Green MP (heck, some of those in non-Pavilion wards think Caroline’s their MP). I think most will see it as bogus (except those in Peacehaven).

    • Yes LW – some people wrongly think Caroline’s their MP, but largely because she is giving them that impression.

      When CL addressed the empty commons last night she referred to Brighton and Hove, as if that was her contituency throughout her speech…bogus, cynical or an honest slip of the tongue – I don’t know.

      But I do know that stats will always be argued over, but the fact CL gives the impression she is everyone’s MP in Brighton and Hove isn’t accurate in the slightest and not sure you would be overly impressed if Kirby or Weatherly did the same.

      • Presumably you’re referring to this:
        http://www.theyworkforyou.com/debates/?id=2011-03-28a.143.0

        She’s talking about the Sustainable Communities Act which the City Council have opted into. As such I don’t see how she could avoid referring to “Brighton and Hove”. Just talking about “Brighton Pavilion constituency” wouldn’t make sense in this context as it’s a city-wide initiative.

  13. Anyone want to comment on the cycle lane claim?

    • I haven’t seen this, but if Labour really are claiming that the Greens *did not* oppose the removal of the lanes (your original post was a bit unclear) then ‘mendacious toss’ is spot on.

      I hope this election doesn’t degenerate into some kind of race to the bottom between the two main opposition parties. There is a lot at stake here.

  14. Sorry BPB but I’m not goung to disassociate myself from those figures for the reasons Dr Faust, Warren Morgan and others have given. Criticising the greens seems to be the political equivalent of clubbing seals in Brighton and Hove (see the overreaction above to the inconvenient truth of the Greens vote on the cycle lane).

    Greens may think Labour employs “underhand” tactics but the same applies to the Greens who (for example) in the Goldsmid by-election were telling people on the doorstep in the last 72 hours of the campaign that Labour had “pulled out” to ensure the Greens beat the Tories (yeah, right). And before anyone says otherwise, I know because I heard this spiel 3 or 4 times when I was canvassing adjacent houses from Greens.

  15. craig – if true, and i have no reason to think you’d make it up – do you know who the person you heard saying this was? or what they look like? please tell me it wasn’t the candidate but some over zealous activist ( who should be barred from canvassing)

    having said that – two wrongs don’t make a right

    • Craig – Just for the record, I was not at all impressed by the Greens’ characterisation of Labour’s budget vote as a ‘sell out’. I’d say that was pretty juvenile, as it goes, since this was a matter of political tactics, not principle.

      But equally, trying to spin the Green budget vote as being a vote against the cycle lanes smacks of desperation. I am not sure how you can hope to get any traction using this kind of argument. Anyone who is even slightly switched on will look at that and assume there must be more to the argument – and so there is.

      I am starting to think that the really ‘inconvenient truth’ is that policy wise, there is very little to choose between Labour and the Greens at a local level, Hence the reliance on this kind of nonsense – on both sides.

      • I’m waiting for a good, independent analysis of the local party manifestos. From my reading there’s some pretty clear water between Greens and Labour in most areas. So Clive, there’s no “inconvenient truth” there!

        On graphs – one issue is that some versions of Labour’s graph has the Labour bar much fatter than the others. A proper graph should have the area proportional to the value represented.

        I’m tempted to graph the number of MPs won in Sussex in 2010 — ‘cos then we’d see zero for Labour and one for Greens. People can graph what they like, but Labour need to accept that their one is weak – but it’s all they’ve got after years of election losses.

        On the cycle lane issue. Greens led the petitioning, we had saving the lane in the joint amendments and in our own alternative budget. We clearly opposed the Tory plans there. I won’t rehearse the arguments on the final budget vote, but they don’t nullify our policy position on the cycle lane — which is absolutely clear.

        It really doesn’t hold much water with residents when Labour accuse Greens of wanting to lose a cycle lane. Of course we didn’t, we’re Greens! I look forward to some positive campaigning from Labour and Tories in the near future…

    • greenpartymember – it was a young female activist who was being, as you say, over zealous.

  16. “Criticising the greens seems to be the political equivalent of clubbing seals in Brighton and Hove”

    Well said Craig.

    Let’s remember that the Greens came in a very poor fourth place in both Hove and Kemptown (I think that Ben Duncan actually manage to decrease their vote) at the last General Election. The bar chart may be a tad crude but even if one could exclude the “Lewes” votes I should imagine that the Greens were still fourth.

    • The Greens were a tad busy pulling all their resources in to get their first MP so no one should be surprised by their results in the other 2 constituencies.

  17. It does seem that the Labour policy is to fudge a statistic every time that the local Party runs out of new ideas.

    I wonder if Labour and Greens genuinely believe they are more progressive than my fellow Tories. Based on the above comments it is a generational divide with a younger progressive movement repressed by a staunchly partisan and confrontational approach of a politically entrenched ‘older’ generation (despite being part of that generation I do not class myself in this manner).

    I see this trend very strongly in my own Party, not least at Council meetings when I glance younger Conservatives holding their heads in their hands in exasperation at the rantings of some (not to be named) Tories. I see the same trend in the above comments.

    • This is social media TTT – a far cry from the council chamber where, it seems, a number of councillors adopt some quite unsavoury and very childish behaviour. It doesn’t matter whether it’s in Brighton or Hove Town Hall. Some of them turn into ogres and it’s very tedious for the mugs in the public gallery…apparently…!

  18. On another subject … interesting yougov poll out today, done purely in areas that are voting in local elections this May. The figures, with comparisons since 2007, are:

    CON 34%(-4), LAB 38%(+16), LDEM 13%(-11), Others 15%

    From ukpollingreport.co.uk

    I make that a ten percent swing from Tory to Labour, which is pretty hefty. Even in the exceptional circumstances of B&H, that is likely to see Labour making the most gains. It could bring some wards into contention usually considered safe, as well.

  19. Jason, agreed there is some pretty clear water between Green and Labour manifesto pledges, ours are realistic and costed, your manifesto begins: “We realise many of our Manifesto plans cannot be implemented…”

    • I think it’s absolutely right to show vision and ‘aspirations’, which the Greens’ manifesto does quite well.

      http://bit.ly/hdYZHL

      It’s important that parties think beyond the narrow constraints of the public sector budget.

      Much in the Green manifesto would not incur extra costs in any case; they are simply proposals for better ways to provide existing services.

      Manifestos should explain what a political party stands for, giving voters an understanding of the party’s ‘platform’.

      They shouldn’t be a pre-budget script on spending.

      It would be foolhardy and disingenuous to give such undertakings for a four year council term when local councils have such slight control over their budgets.

    • How about the full quote: “We realise many of our Manifesto plans cannot be implemented immediately because the city is starved of cash.”

      Starved of cash by cuts that Tories and Libdems are pushing on us, but which Labour repeatedly claim they too would have done, just more slowly.

      Warren — There’s no costing provided in the Labour manifesto and a number of glaring omissions… for example scant detail on the tourism sector.

      Why don’t we debate the policy differences in our manifestos instead of your pointless misquoting and innuendo?

  20. It’s insincere deliberately cutting off a sentence when the full one quite obviously has an altogether different meaning.

    Start as you mean to go on…

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