The most stupid of gaffes - Giving the Green Party free publicity and credibility

Fifteen years ago I attended a Lib Dem campaign training day in North Norfolk where Chris (now Lord) Rennard taught us how to campaign like professionals, not amateurs. it was an enlightening day and was one of the great spurs that eventually drove us on to victory in North Norfolk some eight years later.

At the end of the day Chris did a question and answer session about anything and everything to do with his political history. When asked about campaign gaffes he has seen in the past, he told us of an SDP candidate who, so sure if his winning arguments, decided to give his opponents space on the SDP leaflet in which to allow both the Labour Party and the Tories to publish their manifesto pledges. Unsurprisingly, to anyone with half a brain, this appeared to the electorate as though the SDP was endorsing the other candidates, which meant the SDP candidate lost whilst the credibility of Labour Party and the Conservative Party in that area received a massive boost.

Well that incident was more than twenty years ago and nobody would be stupid enough to do that sort of thing now, would they ? Well yes, they would.

Bizarrely, a Lib Dem in a part of London with an active Green presence, has decided to allow the Green party to tout for votes on his blog. Confused ? I should say.

If a Lib Dem chose to use their own blog to be critical of the Lib Dems, then that is a valid use of "their own" blog, but to turn it over to a senior Green Party candidate, to give the Green Party such publicity and to allow them to tout for Lib Dem second preference votes whilst the Green Party have official sought to block any such reciprocal agreement when they signed a pact with Ken Livingstone last week urging all Green's to support Ken with their second preferences just defies understanding.

This is the most one sided debate in history. What do the Green's get ? Publicity, credibility, and possibly extra votes. What do we get apart from being made to look stupid ? Nothing.


Bernard Salmon said...

While I wouldn't give an opponent space on my blog - it's for me to express my opinions - I think you're (a) over-reacting and (b) giving it additional exposure it doesn't really deserve.

Tom Paine said...

I don't think anyone "made" the LibDems look stupid here. It seems to have been an exercise of free will.

Anonymous said...

Rather naive and more than a little bit silly on his part. I wonder how this might be seen in Ham and High where the Greens actively hinder the Liberals chances of winning.

Julian H said...

Hello Nich,

Thank you for the attention you’re giving my blog. However, I would ask that in future if you intend on publicly labelling me ‘stupid’, perhaps you could let me know about this (with at least a link on my blog as to where you have done so), rather than leaving me to discover it via my webstats several hours later. Just a thought but don’t feel obliged.

My arguments have largely already been made. I’ll display them in point form for added clarity:

1. My blog is not aimed at the voting public and from what I can tell is almost entirely read by Lib Dems. Thus posts on it by rival parties do not give them any kind of significantly increased access to the electorate.

1.5. Hence there is virtually no link between your example of an official electioneering leaflet, sent to voters and funded by the party, and my blog.

2. My original intention (which still stands) was to give supporters of the other three main candidates for London Mayor the opportunity to attempt to convince us Lib Dems to give them our second preferences. Thus pieces by Ken and Boris supporters will soon follow. The Ken piece was intended for today but has been delayed.

3. It is both liberal and democratic for Liberal Democrats to consider other points of view; we may reject them, just as most of the comments on my blog have rejected the Green argument. At the point of writing not one single visitor to my site has selected Si├ón Berry in the poll adjacent to the piece – suggesting that their attempts to convince us have failed.

4. I do not at all regret the decision to stimulate debate on LD second preferences in LD circles in this way. To paraphrase the late Alan Clark (which no doubt gives damaging ‘credibility’ and ‘publicity’ to the Tories and will result in a slapped Julian H wrist courtesy of Cowley Street), a ‘gaffe’ is a mistake, an accidental blunder – hence this is not a ‘gaffe’ as it was, and still is, fully intentional. Equally, your hilariously witty use the not-at-all-exhausted ‘Doh!’ is incorrect as this depicts Homer regretting his ‘stupid’ actions – whereas I do not accept any mistake has been made, and neither do comment-leavers here, aside from the predictably anonymous ‘poster’ (who makes an identical point to one in Nich’s post, but nevertheless thought they needed to come along and contradict the first two).

5. In response to this ‘Anonymous’ point – without wanting to repeat the above, I very much doubt my blog is seen by floating voters in Ham & High and the LDs around here are presumably happy to have me stomping the streets with Focuses as I have been this afternoon – which is somewhat more likely to influence the results of local elections.

6. You have a typo in paragraph one. The word ‘it’, coming at the beginning of a sentence, should have a capital ‘I’.

Tsh, this is too much to type on so frivolous an issue, on a bloody Friday night as well. The End.

Julian H said...

Dear Nich,

I confess that I have posted a further response on my blog. Thus to avoid appearing like a black-carbon-stained pot I'll inform you that is is here:


All the best,


Johnny Norfolk said...

I see the course did not work then.

Rupert Read said...

What I find amusing is that Norfolk Blogger has blown his top at this giving of extra publicity to the Green Party, and, by means of doing so, has of course... given extra publicity to the Green Party!
Nice own goal there, Nich!

Norfolk Blogger said...

I'll take it as a badge of honour to be criticised by you. I can think of no one I respect less.

I love taking lectures Greens whose carbon footprint includes flights and overseas tours that would rack up enough of a carbon footprint to last me ten lifetimes.

Rupert said...

I note that your ad hominem response does not address the point I made. Hardly surprising, given that there is no response -- your post attacking Julian H. immediately hoist you by your own petard.
I note also that you are persisting in your erroneous claims that I am a hypocrite. Rather disgraceful, to make such claims without checking the facts first.
The facts are these: I have taken a number of flights in the past. Most of them on business, and nearly all of them before I became a Green. I have now completely given up flying for leisure, and only take the very occasional flight on essential business -- normally, I insist on 'attending' Conferences abroad etc., if at all, by video or audio conference (or by boat/train).
Green policy is for a serious reduction in air travel, not for its complete abolition, by the way.
Can I now expect an apology, or at least a little respect? That would be heartening, to those of us who fear that the ugliness of manners on the blogosphere tends to put good people off from reading us.

Norfolk Blogger said...

Its laughable for you to come across holier than thou (although isn't this the whole Green party con ?) when referring to manners.

Are you not the same person who tried to gate crash and ruin a visit from Charles Kennedy to Norwich a few years ago ?

Hardly the act of someone with good manners.

Rupert said...

Another intriguing attempt on your part to change the subject, Nich...
While I'm here, I might as well answer your question: On the occasion to which you refer, I was trying to get my old mucker Charles to answer the question of why the Libdems in practice supported the invasion of Iraq: see
Unfortunately, Charlie wouldn't answer my question, and no LibDem ever has done -- except for those who have left the LibDems and joined us, as two of your former Councillors in Norwich have now done.

Anonymous said...

So that's a yes then. Rupert Read does try and wreck other party's meetings then.