On Friday I was optimistic to see this Tweet from Labour’s only councillor in Bath:
Did all that work delivering scare tactic leaflets and dodgy bar charts? That’s what I mean. It’s time for the liberals to do what they’ve been avoiding for years: have a fair fight on the issues.— Cllr Joe Rayment 🌹 (@joerayment91) February 8, 2018
It’s good to see political parties called out for misleading graphs and stats, and locally the Lib Dems are masters at it. However, less than 24 hours later I saw this article in the Bath Chronicle, the source of which was a Labour press release, which states that if there ‘was no tactical voting’ then Labour could win. This struck me as immediately suspicious, since Labour hasn’t even been close to winning in Bath for a lifetime. Indeed, when I stood in 2015 I got about the same number of votes as the Labour candidate (on a much bigger swing), and in the last Bath election where tactical voting didn’t apply (the European elections) the Green Party easily beat Labour (and also beat the Liberal Democrats).
I asked both Labour and the Bath Chronicle for the source data. The next day they still hadn’t responded but thankfully another source did, and the survey was very revealing.
There were a number of questions about polling intentions. The Greens were not given as a possible answer to any of them. The question that was the basis of the press release was actually ‘If the Conservatives, Lib Dems and Labour all had an equal chance of winning, who would you vote for?’ and again, the Greens were not an option.
Now whether this was incompenent surveying technique or a deliberate attempt to exclude their closest rival party it’s hard to say, but clearly the press release from Labour and the Chronicle story are misleading.
I pointed this out to the local Labour party and their councillor. Their attitude was ‘So what?’.
‘Such is politics!’, you probably say, shrugging your shoulders. ‘Just let it go!’. Well, I would, but I feel that it’s important to shine a light on this spin and dishonesty. Labour, and Jeremy Corbyn in particular, like to talk about a ‘new kind of politics’ based on honesty where voters decide how to vote based on policy and issues, rather than dodgy leaflets, half-truths and deceptive statistics. They have not changed. They are guilty of doing the exact thing they criticise others for.
It’s just not good enough. I want politics to be clean. I want both policies and attitudes to be clear. I want the source of statements like this one by Labour to be public so we can make up our own minds. I want the public to make an informed choice.
Most of all I want a fairer electoral system where tactical voting isn’t an incentive for anyone. Ironically, even though this is something the local Labour Party complain about in this stunt, they are a party that opposes electoral reform. I despise the hypocrisy and the alienation and apathy it creates in the electorate.
You can read the BaNES Green Party statement on this story here.