I have the mixed fortune of living in East Dunbartonshire, which is a nice bit of the world but also a crucial Liberal Democrat seat: all the polls point to our MP, Jo Swinson, getting the boot come May 7 and the LDs are spending an astonishing amount of money trying to prevent that from happening.
I’m averaging three pieces of mail a day from the Lib Dems, not including flyers and fake newspapers, and I’m at the point where I think I’d vote for any party that promised I’d never receive another Lib Dem leaflet or letter in my life. But until that happy day, my most recent personalised letter is from a Stewart Moohan urging me to vote Lib Dem. I understand similar letters are going out from a former Tory to voters more affluent than me.
Moohan isn’t, or wasn’t, an LD party activist. He’s a former Labour voter, former chair of a community labour association, and he and his wife Mhairi are convinced that the only way to save Earth from demons is for all Labour supporters to vote Lib Dem. Otherwise the SNP will get in and plagues of locusts, boils, etc etc etc.
The thing is, Stewart and his wife Mhairi have appeared in a very different election communication recently. This one.
Mr Moohan, it turns out, was an unsuccessful Labour candidate in 2012 (he got just 700 votes), and he went on to be unsuccessful in his bid to become the Labour candidate for this election. So he did what any man of principle would do: he threw his toys out of the pram and signed up to campaign against Labour with the Lib Dems.
I appreciate that people can change their minds. But I’m pretty sure Moohan hasn’t quit the Labour party, so urging tactical voting is breaking party rules. And I’m absolutely certain that it looks bad leaving your pre-Damascene conversion rhetoric online so people can Google you and see this.
We have seen the damage that has been done already in the last three years to our country’s public services by this Coalition Government’s austerity policies and the effect this has had on our economy, cutting too fast and too deep.
That’ll be the Conservative coalition with, er, the Lib Dems.
Update, later that day
The Lib Dem-supporting letters from “a conservative voter since I have been allowed to vote” are from Tatjana/Tanya Hine, who spoke at a Lib Dem event in 2009, who publicly signed the Lib Dems’ online pro-Europe petition a year ago and who has a habit of appearing in Lib Dem promotional literature (this one is from the run-up to the referendum). That’s hardly damning, but it does suggest an ongoing connection rather than another Damascene conversion. As does suddenly writing to loads of people you don’t know telling them to vote for a party you say you’ve never supported before and getting the local Lib Dem election agent to print and distribute it.
I know it’s just politicking, but it’s just such bollocks. Patronising, misleading, insulting the electorate bollocks.