A week’s a very long time in politics for unbriefed Jasper

By Steven Downes, Editor, InsideCroydon.com

Hardly overwhelmed with support, Lee Jasper’s battle bus outside Fairfield Halls – which is not in Croydon North constituency

Lee Jasper, after admitting that he has been using fake Twitter accounts to boost his by-election campaign, showed today that if elected as an MP he could struggle to keep pace with the volume of paperwork coming his way at Westminster when he admitted it had taken him more than a week to get round to reading a detailed questionnaire about his biggest election rival.

And even then, Jasper revealed that he had failed to read the whole of the Inside Croydon post through.

The Croydon North by-election takes place on Thursday, with Labour’s Steve Reed expected to hold on to most of the 16,000 majority he inherited from the late Malcolm Wicks. The battle for second place in what is expected to be a low turnout seems to be between the Conservatives’ Andy Stranack and Jasper, who is standing for the Respect (George Galloway) party.

But bookmakers this week suspended betting on the by-election as they had to slash the odds on Jasper.

On the ground, Jasper’s campaign does not appear to have garnered significant support. Atop his “battle bus” Jasper has cut a very lonely figure – especially when the driver has taken him across the borough boundary into Streatham or parked up outside the Fairfield Halls, which is also outside the Croydon North constituency.

Jasper has confirmed repeatedly that he has been making use of social media to publicise his campaign, even resorting to using “Twitter bots” – computer robots that automatically retweet relevant content, creating the impression of wider support.

He has also maintained that despite his strong record on equality issues, he would not be “targeting” black and minority ethnic voters, in a potentially divisive manner.

Yet on the eve of the election, Jasper opted to Tweet: “Asked by @insideCroydon Do EM & faith groups face discrimination? @Steve4Croydon refused 2 answer #croydon no commitment 2 anti racism” (where @steve4Croydon is the campaign Twitter handle for Reed).

Flattering as it is to be cited as a primary source by a parliamentary candidate, we were somewhat taken aback that it had taken Jasper quite so long to latch on to the Labour candidate’s initial failure to answer all the questions in our form questionnaire.

On his lonely bus tour of Croydon, Lee Jasper might have spent some time catching up on his campaign reading

When Harold Wilson said “a week’s a long time in politics”, the world had only just entered the satellite age, and twitter was something only garden birds did. In this 24/7 multi-media age, politicians, especially those in the midst of an election campaign, are expected to be up to speed with their brief at all times.

It was interesting, also, that Jasper – the man who said he would not be using divisive racial issues in the campaign – should home-in on that particular, unanswered question.

But it soon became apparent that Jasper had failed to read the article in full. Either that, or he was guilty of doing just the sort of political trickery that he has often accused the “mainstream” parties of doing: selective quoting.

Because on the same day that Reed submitted his questionnaire answers, with some notable gaps, he also sent through a supplementary set of answers, which we posted on this website later that day. Jasper – conveniently? deliberately? – overlooked this, despite the post being next in sequence to Reed’s original questionnaire, and despite, in bold type, “7pm UPDATE: Click here for more on this questionnaire” appearing on the article from which he selectively quoted. Later Tweets from Jasper suggested strongly that he had not seen this.

Many people are wary of Respect, apparently with good reason.

Despite Respect making much of their “outsider” status, as being not of the mainstream of national politics and so untainted by the expenses scandals and other less attractive traits of the Westminster village, some people raise serious questions about the party and its leader.

They look at Galloway’s egotistic attitude (what other party has the party leader’s name on the ballot papers, as is happening here in Croydon?); Galloway’s record in parliament; his relationship with Press TV, the Iran-owned television station; his statements about women and rape; his fawning to Saddam Hussein… the list goes on.

But Respect sets itself up as being “better” than the other, what it regards as “tawdry” parties. They are intolerant of the short-comings and human aspects of Labour, Tory and Liberal supporters. Therefore, the expectations of Respect and its candidates, such as Jasper, are higher.

You can imagine how disappointing it must be, therefore, when Respect candidates such as Jasper mislead the electorate – whether deliberately or through incompetence – and behave in a hypocritical manner.

Because when it came to Lee Jasper completing the Inside Croydon questionnaire, he needed to have the questions sent to him on three occasions.And even then, Lee Jasper left some questions unanswered.

And politicians wonder why they have issues on trust and credibility with the public.

Click on any of the links below to read responses to questionnaires sent to candidates in the by-election:

  • Inside Croydon: For comment and analysis about Croydon, from inside Croydon
  • Post your comments on this article below. If you have a news story about life in or around Croydon, a residents’ or business association or local event, please email us with full details at inside.croydon@btinternet.com

About insidecroydon

News, views and analysis about the people of Croydon, their lives and political times in the diverse and most-populated borough in London. Based in Croydon and edited by Steven Downes. To contact us, please email inside.croydon@btinternet.com
This entry was posted in 2012 by-election, Andrew Stranack, Croydon North, Lee Jasper, Steve Reed MP and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

3 Responses to A week’s a very long time in politics for unbriefed Jasper

  1. Ken Towl says:

    Ladbrokes haven’t suspended bets. I put another £25 on Labour yesterday. This time I stand to win nearly a fiver!

  2. Lee Jasper says:

    Dear Inside Croydon

    First your desperate attempt to inflate a tweet comment into evidence of gross incompetence is laughable. To try and inflate such a non story into a serious piece strains the crediblity of your site. The charges of mendacity and incopmetennce [SIC] based on a single tweet indicates the quite desperate nature of article as a whole.

    Respect is a small party and simply does not have the resources to compete with the staffing and budgets of the mainstream parties. We will inevitably make some mistakes and where these are made in good faith we apologise.

    But this piece is quite laughable in its desperate attempt to build a mountain out of a molehill.

    I relation to Croydon College if you’d asked us we could have told you what we were doing at Croydon College. We were there promoting a youth hustings that you failed to cover. Many Croydon North residents attend the college as was evident to all who atttended [SIC] the hustings. All the candidates attended with the exception of Steve Reed. The basic press convention of injecting some journalistic balance or seeking factual clarity from Respect seems to have evaded Inside Croydon on this occassion [SIC]

    Your tawdry description of Respect contrasts in reality with the real corruption and criminality of the other parties mired in MPs expenses scandals, press and police corruption as illustrated by the Levenson inquiry and the prosecution of illegal wars and the murder and deaths of millions of innocent people.

    Neither George Galloway MP nor I, or indeed the Respect Party, have the appalling track record as these mainstream parties whose corruption and criminality have so eroded the integrity of British democracy. The tired old canards critisising [SIC] George Gallowy [SIC] MP are simply that. Fact is Nobody’s interested as is evidenced by his historic win in the Bradford by election a fact that you seem unable to compute or explain in the context of you criticisms here.

    Next the questions I left unaswered in your questionairre related to who were my politcial heroes and some other powderpuff question. Hardly critical information for Croydon North residents here again your intent is clear – to politically malign Respect .

    Disagree with our politics if you like thats fine…but this cheap article is playing the men not the ball.

    Oh… by the way some of our material includes spelling mistake maybe you’d like to inflate into that into clear evidence of treason

    • And so Lee Jasper seeks to justify being deliberately deceitful with… another lie.

      It wasn’t a single tweet, Lee, was it? As your timeline will show, you were quickly advised that what you had stated was untrue and misleading. You were given the opportunity to accept that and correct it. This went on over the course of several hours. You did not correct it or apologise.

      And you even have the gall to state here: “We will inevitably make some mistakes and where these are made in good faith we apologise.” Really? Have you? Of course you haven’t. Another lie.

      What is really laughable is how you conduct yourself in exactly the same, mendacious manner of so many of the “mainstream parties” which you claim to abhor, and yet transparently hold ambition to emulate.

      Had we – as you charge – intended “to politically malign Respect” by belittling your responses (and non-responses) in your questionnaire, we could have done that at the time we first published it. We did not. Hardly the political activism you allege.

      That’s because we had none of the intent that you ascribe to us. We only highlighted that your shortcomings were similar to those of Steve Reed, when you, very belatedly, deliberately tried to make political capital from them.

      That, to us, is rank hypocrisy.

      Nor, through the entire campaign, have we bothered to mention the disgusting, racist and anti-Semitic abuse which we were subjected to by anonymous, keyboard warriors who claimed to be supporters of your campaign and your party. We highlighted this at the time, but you did not act. You did not even comment to disassociate yourself from such racist abuse.

      What does that say about you?

      It is our opinion, to which we are entitled, that you are not up to the job of being an MP. In which respect, you’re probably very well suited.

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