KEN LEE, our political correspondent, on the new depths of cant and hypocrisy plumbed by election candidates in two of the area’s most tightly fought constituenciesTory activists in Croydon and in Sutton have been accused of delivering election leaflets over the course of the past two days, when there was supposed to be a suspension of campaigning out of respect for the victims of Monday’s night’s Manchester bombing atrocity.
Theresa Mayhem, the unelected Prime Minister, had called for the suspension of campaigning ahead of the June 8 General Election for an “indefinite” period, something the other party leaders agreed to do.
There was to be no canvassing, leafleting or even speaking to people in the street to try to advance the cause of a particular candidate.
But residents in Carshalton and Wallington, where the Tories are challenging long-standing LibDem MP Tom Brake, and in Fairfield ward in Croydon Central, where career politician Gavin Barwell is fighting for to save his political career, have both reported receiving Conservative Party leaflets in the past two days, in the middle of the campaign suspension.
The leaflets are from a national campaign, as they feature multiple images of Mayhem, in a mocked-up version of a tacky-looking weekly magazine.
“It was definitely hand-delivered,” according to a householder in central Croydon who received the unsolicited Tory literature yesterday.
“No address sticker or anything.”
Residents in Carshalton and Wallington have also received the same Tory leaflets this week.
Which is all a bit embarrassing for Matthew Maxwell-Scott, the heir presumptive to a baronetcy who is hopeful of unseating Brake. Since Maxwell-Scott had been busy on social media yesterday with holier-than-thou tweets aimed at the LibDem, after Brake’s campaigners had been spotted out on the streets.In a tweet directed at Brake, Maxwell-Scott wrote, “Your operatives…”, yes, operatives, how public school is that?, “… are still delivering leaflets and hammering in garden signs. Suggest they give it a rest today, as agreed.”
Maxwell-Scott maintains that the leaflets in Carshalton were delivered by Royal Mail, not by his own “operatives”, and posted before the suspension (phew!), though that does not explain his own negative campaigning on social media.
Of course, had a rank hypocrite such as Barwell or someone from his state-funded staff spotted any Labour candidate doing something so crassly disrespectful of the Manchester bomb victims, they would be sure to have contacted their Alt-right chums working for fringe websites or Murdoch-owned tabloids and given good quote in exclaiming disgust and repulsion at such conduct.
In Carshalton and Wallington, the Labour candidate, Emina Ibrahim, suggested that even Maxwell-Scott’s own tweet to Brake was, in its own way, a form of political campaigning during the campaign suspension.So though Brake – who for five years served as a senior figure in a Conservative-led government – was seen outside Wallington Station yesterday talking to commuters, Labour members were under orders not to exploit the situation for political advantage.
“In the Labour Party, we observed no social media campaigns, too,” she said.
“MMS [Matthew Maxwell-Scott] Twitter profile is part of his social media campaign, too.”
Campaigning has recommenced today, at local level, after the 11am minute’s silence for the Manchester bomb victims.
National campaigning for the majority of parties will start in earnest tomorrow, though UKIP launched its manifesto today, postponed from yesterday.
Tories caught distributing leaflets during the campaign suspension may attempt to excuse the action by claiming this was limited to the local campaign – much in the same way that they dodged claims of election fraud in 2015 by claiming overspending was from a national campaign budget, and not attributed to constituency spending.
That, though, will be hard to justify as Tory activists in two separate constituencies have been caught, during what was supposed to be a respectful suspension of campaigning, delivering the same leaflets which feature their national party leader, and her “plan for a stronger Britain”.
In the context of this week’s tragic events, May offering “a stronger Britain” may not be quite the message the Tories would have chosen to communicate.
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