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Friday, April 20, 2007 

Blimey! They're at it again!

Tories hijack another campaign

Here's an extract from the above Surrey Advertiser article:
Fury at Tories for 'cheap electoral trick'

The Conservatives have come under fire for their election tactics for a second week in a row after a Guildford residents' association accused them of hijacking its campaign.

Paul Kassell, from Stoughton Community Association (SCA) has claimed electioneers from Guildford Tories have jumped on the traffic issue.

He is livid as a picture he claims he took of cars mounting pavements along Grange Road has appeared on the pamphlet, along with the camapign acronym STAN - Stoughton Traffic Action Now.

The leaflets were put through house doors in the ward about two weeks ago.

"I am absolutely furious. Without talking to us, they have hijacked our campaign even down to the point where they used a photograph from our website," he said, "I have not seen any of the three candidates attend a meeting or stand on the street in protest. It's sudden interest and it is a cheap electoral trick.

"They know that everyone in Stoughton thinks this is the main issue. The thing that annoys me most is we have a Conservative-led county council, but they [Guildford Tories] are wondering where the money will come from."

Mr Kassell said the election leaflet could set back years his organisation's campaign, as it is asking for 'fixes', a stage the SCA was at in 2005.

"This could potentially set us back two years in out campaign. If the county council starts dealing with two different groups, they will use it as an excuse to do nothing."

"This will not have a neutral effect - it will do damage. It will slow us down. We have not seen any of them on the protests. It's anything for a vote."

The main website of the SCA can be found here and on the related weblog, Mr Kassell can be seen giving a guarded and ever-so-slightly tongue-in-cheek welcome to Tory support back in March.

You can see the photo the Tory candidates ripped off, and the SCA page they nicked it from, in the image below:

scan and screengrab

The relevant Tory candidates have responded with a joint statement that includes a number of pissweak justifications... and a claim that the SCA is "an apparent Liberal Democrat front organisation"!

They do like to jump up and down and scream "Lib Dem front!" when anyone catches them with their hands in the cookie jar, don't they?

(Meanwhile, other local Tories are busy building, renewing and promoting a series of anonymous websites where they pose as Labour supporters and make all sorts of misleading and/or unsubstantiated claims about the local Liberal Democrats. Amusingly, one of these Tory-run websites is now declaring that the admirably even-handed Surrey Advertiser has a secret anti-Tory agenda.)

Let me ask you this... if these Tories even so much as suspected that the SCA was a front for a competing party, do you really think they would lift material and attempt to hijack their campaign in this way?

I called Paul Kassell and asked him about the 'Lib-Dem front' claim. He responded by pointing out that local councillors are on the SCA committees, and yes, they happen to be Liberal Democrats. He said; "Should any of the local Tory candidates become local councillors, they will also be invited."

Of course, whether or not these Tories do anything constructive with that opportunity (if it arises) remains to be seen... but they've already made clear how much respect they have for Mr Kassell and his aims.


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About me

    Hi. I'm Tim. I live in Guildford. I've built a few political weblogs here and there. If you're wondering why I decided to start this particular blog, click here.


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