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Friday, February 17, 2017

Misinformation and intimidation in Stoke-on-Trent Central

There has not been such an intense, no-holds barred, dirty by-election since Birmingham Hodge Hill. It is an indication of how high the stakes are both, for a beseiged Labour Party and for a struggling UKIP, desperately trying to become relevant once more.

The UKIP leader and candidate Paul Nuttall has been at the sharp end of the attacks as his personal and political flaws are pulled apart by his opponents and the media. But Labour have not escaped scrutiny either.

The Labour candidate has been criticised for his historic twitter positions and for his support for the remain campaign. He has been put in the impossible position of defending Labour's new enthusiastic support for the UK leaving the EU whilst apparently not believing a word his party's leadership says on the issue.

And then there are the dirty tricks, the latest of which has made the news this morning. The Guardian reports that the Lib Dems have alerted the police after messages sent to some Muslim voters in Stoke-on-Trent suggested they could go to hell if they failed to vote Labour to keep out Ukip’s Paul Nuttall:

The anonymous message, distributed locally to some in the Muslim community by text and Whatsapp, called for people to vote Labour so as not to help “enemies of Islam”.

It said voting for the Lib Dem candidate, Dr Zulfiqar Ali, a Muslim, could help “far-right, anti-Muslim, anti-Islamic Ukip party” take the seat, which is being contested in a byelection triggered by the resignation of Labour MP Tristram Hunt.

It is not known how many people received the message, but the Lib Dems claimed it had been “distributed in large numbers” in support of the Labour candidate, Gareth Snell.

The Lib Dems demanded an apology from Labour on Thursday in a letter to the party’s election agent, copying in the police and Stoke returning officer.

Ian Horner, the Lib Dem election agent, wrote: “I am sure that you realise that the religious nature of one of these messages could also be deemed to be covered by the ruling on ‘undue spiritual influence’ in the matter of a mayoral election for the London borough of Tower Hamlets held on 22 May 2014, when the Labour party were the victims of such tactics.”

The party also called on Labour to condemn the “campaign of misinformation and intimidation currently under way in their name in Stoke-on-Trent”.

It is impossible to say what the impact of all this fighting is going to be on the result or indeed, how voters will react to it. Given the turnout record in Stoke-on-Trent I suspect most voters will just stay at home.

But if the remain voters do decide to come out and back the only candidate who represents their views, the Liberal Democrat, Dr Zulfiqar Ali, then there could be an upset.
There is so much at stake for Labour and Ukip I hope we can come up from behind kicking them both in the backside (did fancy swearing but I won,t)
Any underhand action by other parties which affect us in ANY way should be stamped on immediately to prevent it from spreading.
Oops!! it also means to me we are on the up.
Reference Port Talbot. Now that the recent problems of the area,s steel jobs have been sorted out to prevent the problem happening again alternate industry should be encouraged into the area as an insurance policy to prevent a future decline. Involve the voter in this conversation.
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