Local Liberal Democrats – apparently, there are some – have banned Inside Croydon from their little get-together with Lembit Opik, the former MP and accidental high Scrabble score, who is rumoured to have ambitions to be the next Mayor of London.
Inside Croydon drew attention to the Croydon LibDems’ “pizza and politics” get together earlier this week, including the fact that the page on the local party’s website managed to omit the date of the event (which is September 25).
Well, after helpful prompting from us, they’ve updated the web page now, though they still haven’t bothered to include the date of the event (durr!).
What they have added to their website is: “This event is open to Liberal Democrat party members and registered supporters“. Ooo-errr.
Previously, when the event was open anyone interested to hear what Opik might have to say (which, we grant you, might be a select few), at their request we had contacted them directly to book a place.
After a week’s wait, someone called Toby Keynes wrote back, in a somewhat tail-between-the-legs tone, saying that he was “afraid that our website did rather lead you up the garden path, showing our fundraising event with Lembit Opik as a public meeting when it is in fact an informal event, in a member’s home, for members and supporters”.
Right. So it isn’t a public event after all, even though that’s how they first publicised it. So who’s mistake is that, then?
“This is very much my fault, so again I apologise.”
But there is also the veiled “you’re not welcome” message: “I’ve now taken a look at your website, which is stimulating but doesn’t really suggest that you fall into the supporter category.”
Interesting judgement call.
Clearly, Toby is not aware of the anti-Richard Ottaway Facebook page that was established by Inside Croydon, of which the LibDem candidate for Croydon South, Simon Rix, was an enthusiastic member. Indeed, two of Rix’s family (“supporters of the LibDems” perhaps?) are still members of that Facebook group.
Ahh, LibDems: not exactly known for their good judgement calls recently.
Banning local media from an event that was originally publicised as being open to all-comers is hardly the sort of transparent, democratic or even, for that matter, liberal approach to the political debate you might expect from the party of Menzies Campbell, Charles Kennedy, Simon Hughes and Vince Cable.
What do Croydon’s LibDems have to hide? Or to fear?