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Saturday, June 26, 2004

Labour's dirty tricks

I have just got back from helping Liberal Democrat candidate, Nicola Davies, at the Birmingham Hodge Hill by-election. Rather unsurprisingly Labour are up to their usual dirty tricks, focussing their campaign on our candidate instead of the issues. The attempted smears are even cruder than usual. Because Nicola works in public relations for a mobile phone company they allege that she is in favour of placing masts next to schools and hospitals, an act only possible in the first place because Labour will not amend the law to require the full planning procedure to apply to all masts regardless of size. This process of personal vilification devalues the political process and puts people off politics. It also shows that, despite claims by prominent Labour MPs that the Liberal Democrats are underhanded, when it comes to getting the gloves off and really fighting dirty there is no matching the Labour Party.

The other thing that frankly shocked me whilst going around the Hodge Hill constituency was the way that the Labour Party are wrapping themselves in the English flag during the European Football Championship. Now, there is nothing wrong with a proper expression of national pride, but is it really appropriate to distribute postcard sized posters of the Flag of St. George stamped with a red Labour logo in a ward where there is severe pressure from the BNP? This crude appeal to narrow-minded nationalism is playing the BNP at its own game. It legitimises the BNP's tactics and it makes the Labour Party in that part of Birmingham as culpable as them in appealing to baser sentiments on crucial issues such as asylum and British sovereignty. It is also the kind of tactic that Labour in Wales would be the first to condemn if Plaid Cyrmu attempted it with the Welsh flag.

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