Tory campaign in Henley makes first big blunder

Paul Walter is right to highlight the Tory blunder in Henley where they are issuing a leafelt claiming the Lib Dem candidate does not live locally when if they had bothered to check their facts they would know that he does actually live locally after all !

This sort of early cock-up can cripple a campaign early on as it can be referred to again and again by the agrieved party as evidence of a dirty tricks campaign and a sign to the electorate that if they will lie about this, they will lie about anything.

Certainly in past campaigns I have been involved this sort of mistake has proved costly. In North Norfolk in 2005 Tory claims that Lib Dem Norman Lamb had "promised" to move to the constituency and had lied about this were found to be untrue, with the Tories forced to apologise in one of their elections leaflets. This mistake put the final torpedo in to what was already a sinking ship of a Tory campaign. It was certainly something that I used when wavering Tories spoke to me.

I remember too in Romsey in 2000 when the Tory campaign claimed their candidate was Hampshire "Born and bred", that the Lib Dems were contacted by someone who said they knew he was not. Further evidential proof was found to highlight that this Tory claim was untrue, and it aided the unravelling of their campaign there.

Will the Lib Dems use this effectively (and by that we mean as something to use when canvassing and when designing leaflets), it remains to be seen. But it's a schoolboy error, that's for sure.


Paul Pinfield said...

This is a pretty stupid error Nich. I can't imagine that they would believe that they could get away with this for long.

However, I doubt that this is going to be their Toff moment. I think it is pretty clear that the Tories will win this by-election by a big margin.

ThunderDragon said...

I'm sorry Nich, but moving in a few weeks ago does not count as "living locally". A few weeks is not enough time to know and understand the area.

One thing is true - the Lib Dem candidate is not "local".

Mark Pack said...

At the moment, each day seems to bring another piece of bad news for the Conservative campaign: there was also the problem of them saying one thing about car tax in their leaflets whilst Alan Duncan told Sky News the opposite, and then today the Green Party candidate has laid into the Conservatives: "It's interesting that the Conservatives should already feel so insecure about their candidate that they appear to have resorted to deliberate lies before the campaign is a day old."

wonkotsane said...

Mate, the Tories could field a Serbian war criminal with a penchant for wearing women's clothes and making snuff movies and they'd still win.

People want Liebour to lose and they'll vote Conservative to make that happen, whether they want them to win or not.

Anonymous said...

Couldn't agree with Wonko more! Be it a mistake or not to highlight something about the Lib Dems I feel people are genuinely in the mood to 'cane' ZaNuLab, and they feel that only the Tories can guarantee to do so - I'm a paid up member of a new minor party and so I'm not to happy about that situation, but nevertheless it's fact!

Anonymous said...

Even if one grants that the Lib Dem is local (he moved in a few weeks ago), I don't see how the Tory campaign is something the Libs can use effectively: "Our candidate isn't from Plymouth like the lying Tories claim, well OK he contested Plymstock in May but look he lives here now!"

And it would be the height of disingenuousness to claim this as a "dirty trick", as an example I might refer you to Bromley 2006 where the Libs attacked on where the Tory candidate lived, and even managed an absolutely amazing attack on Bob Neill for being "the member for Thamesmead and Biggin Hill, on Ken Livingstone's Assembly" - thus rallying pro-localist and anti-Labour sentiment in Bromley against, er, the local Tory GLA member!

So nice try but I think the "I'm settled in Plymouth" line will have more traction for the Tories than "He moved up here the other week, ack-cher-lee" would for the Libs.

Justin Hinchcliffe said...

Your candidate is not local. Full stop. Only in May he said he loved and was settled in Plymouth. Renting a room does not make him local.

Anonymous said...

Lots of very defensive Tories here aren't there ?