'LIBERAL DEMOCRAT DIRTY TRICKS'

Southern Daily Echo – 20 May 2005

I would like to offer my thanks and appreciation to all those electors in New Forest East who voted for me and the Conservative Hampshire County Council candidates on May 5.

This was a very unusual election in that the Labour candidate produced no election address, gave no comment to the press, and indicated on national television that he wished Labour supporters in the constituency to vote for my Liberal Democrat opponent. It was also unusual in that Labour activists operated from the Liberal Democrat campaign office, using its telephone lines, in order to oust me.

I was fairly sure that traditional Labour supporters in New Forest East would not take kindly to such devious tactics – and this seems to have been confirmed by the result of the election. The 48 percent of the vote achieved by the Conservatives in the parliamentary poll was more than the combined 34 percent plus the 12 percent shares of the vote achieved by the Liberal Democrats and Labour respectively.

In the dead of night, a very large quantity of Liberal Democrat posters – many of them embellished with tactical voting stickers urging Labour supporters to vote Liberal – were illegally erected on telegraph poles and along public highway verges, in order to influence people going to vote on their way to work on polling day.

This disgraceful behaviour should finally disprove the myth that the Liberal Democrats are the Holier-than-Thou party where election tactics are concerned.

I am most grateful that my constituents refused to be manipulated in this way and I shall continue to work as hard as I can to justify the confidence in me which they have shown.

Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
New Forest East

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'I BACK A CLEAN FIGHT'

Southern Daily Echo – 21 May 2005

Since the General Election and the subsequent reports in the Daily Echo, I have been approached by friends and acquaintances to explain the dirty tricks campaign by a but active element who advocated tactical voting in an effort to defeat the Conservative candidate Julian Lewis in New Forest East.

I wish it to be known that I, along with many others in the Labour Party, had nothing whatever to do with this. I believe in a clean straight fight whatever the odds.

This episode should not reflect on the New Forest East Labour Party.

OLIVE BEVAN
Lifelong Labour Party member,
Totton

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'DIRTY TRICKS AND FOREST POLITICS'

Southern Daily Echo – 26 May 2005

I welcome the letter (May 21) from Olive Bevan of New Forest East Labour Party disowning the dirty tricks campaign waged by some Labour activists in collusion with the Liberal Democrats in attempting to defeat Julian Lewis at the General Election.

Julian for whom I work and I have always believed that the local Labour Party was somehow hijacked by outsiders determined to do everything they could to sabotage the prospect of people voting Labour, and to help the Liberal Democrats instead.

Indeed, we understand that the Labour candidate put up at the election secured his nomination by collecting numerous postal votes from Labour members before the selection meeting – thus outnumbering the votes cast by people present on the night for a well-respected local candidate who wished to stand.

This whole episode stinks and it seems that genuine local Labour Party people were made the victims of it as much as anybody else.

No-one should ever regard the Liberal Democrats for the way they went along with all this and engaged in illegal fly-posting jointly in their own names and in the name of the Tactical Voting Group.

DI BROOKS
New Forest East Conservatives

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'THEY'VE PROVED TO BE HYPOCRITES AT HUSTINGS'

Southern Daily Echo – 27 May 2005

Julian Lewis and fellow Conservatives should not have been surprised (Letters, May 20) at Liberal Democrats placing their official posters illegally on numerous telegraph poles and roadside verges. Nor should it be surprising that they had Labour activists operating out of the Lib Dem office in Totton as part of the cynical tactical voting campaign.

Of course, the Liberal Democrats are not holier than Thou. Their ruthless tactics are revealed in their notorious publication "Effective Opposition", issued by the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors. This says: "be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly" (p. 21); "Don't be afraid to exaggerate" (p. 23) and "Positive campaigning will NOT be enough to win control" (p.4).

What do we now hear from them? Only that they were the ones who campaigned positively, as if their whole campaign had not hinged on the single negative point that Labour voters should vote Liberal in order to oust the Conservative MP. They proved themselves to be hypocrites.

TOM SPRING-SMYTH
Lyndhurst

* * *

'TACTICAL VOTING'

Lymington Times – 28 May 2005

Had I lost my seat at the General Election, as Brian Dash and the Liberals intended, I should not have felt able to denounce their devious and dishonest tactics as this would have looked like the complaints of a bad loser. Since I was not defeated, however, I felt the time was right to expose them once and for all.

Brian Dash and his activist cronies, Bob Hale and Lee Dunsdon, (report and letters, May 21st) think that, since I won, I should leave them alone; but for years the Liberals have postured as if they observed higher standards than anyone else in politics. In reality, as the election has shown, they are perfectly happy to see the rules against fly-posting on public and private property broken on a very large scale – as was done throughout Totton and Hythe in the middle of the night before polling day – though I know of no evidence that they did this personally.

By contrast, for the first time in my three election campaigns, dozens of Conservative posters were systematically defaced, torn down or removed throughout the campaign, even though properly displayed with permission at legitimate sites.

In October-November last year local newspapers elsewhere in Hampshire ran reports of a complaint by the Liberals’ leader on New Forest District Council accusing me of being "in cahoots" with Labour in the New Forest, citing the fact that I had mentioned two Labour activists, Alan Goodfellow and Peter Sopowski, in a speech at Westminster for being doughty supporters of a New Forest National Park, even though I profoundly disagreed with them about it! Now, when it suits them, the Liberal Democrats say it was absolutely fine for them to have been working hand-in-glove with the Labour-run Tactical Voting Group, who spent their time making telephone calls from the Liberals' office in Totton to Labour voters telling them to vote for Brian Dash rather than the Labour candidate – who himself was doing everything he could to sabotage his own campaign.

Finally, I am intrigued by Brian Dash's vague hints about his conversation with a senior Conservative and cannot help wondering if this was the exchange which my Election Agent overheard at the County Council count the day after I had denounced the Liberal Democrats' dirty tricks campaign: "I know Julian has morals and principles... but when you're fighting an election, you do what you have to to get the votes". I have news for you, Brian, sometimes you get the votes even when you do have morals and principles.

Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
New Forest East

* * *

Lymington Times – 28 May 2005

According to Lee Dunsdon (letter, May 21st) Conservatives should not complain about the Liberal Democrats' blatant collusion with the Labour-run tactical voting campaign in 2005 because Julian Lewis "in the past infiltrated the Labour Party". It is very doubtful that Lee knew this piece of information at first-hand since he would have been a mere schoolboy when it happened.

The year was actually 1976; the place was Newham North East; and the context was the ousting of moderate Labour MPs by militant extremists who were determined to replace them with revolutionary Marxists in a most undemocratic way – which even the Liberals might have been reluctant to support!

What Julian did in exposing this at that time was dangerous both for his academic career as a graduate student and for his physical safety in a hostile environment. It is a cause for praise, not for sneers from the likes of Mr Dunsdon.

COLIN SMITH
Totton Branch
New Forest East Conservatives
16, Mayfield Avenue
Totton

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'LABOUR’S CANDIDATE URGED PEOPLE NOT TO VOTE FOR HIM'

Southern Daily Echo – 23 June 2005

Lee Dunsdon continues to miss the point in his letter (June 10) about tactical voting: the Labour candidate, Stephen Roberts, is a key figure in the tactical voting organisation. If he had openly said to the Labour Party in New Forest East that he was seeking the nomination in order to wreck the Labour campaign and help the Liberal Democrats try to win the New Forest East seat, he would probably not have been selected.

What actually happened, it appears, was that the Labour nomination was seized by someone who then went on television urging people not to vote for him.

The Lib Dems supplied the tactical voting organisation with office facilities, telephone lines and numerous Lib Dem posters – many of which were illegally placed along the highway and on telegraph poles in the middle of the night before polling day. And all this was at a time when the Lib Dems were claiming to be the real opposition to Labour. What a bunch of hypocrites they are!

DEREK TIPP
Chairman
New Forest East Conservative Association

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'LIB DEMS' POLL TACTICS'

Southern Dally Echo – 26 June 2005

At last my Liberal Democrat opponent at the General Elec­tion, Brian Dash, emerges to answer the charges about his tactics in the campaign (Letters, June 18). Yet he has nothing to say about his active collu­sion with the Labour can­didate who sought to sabotage his own campaign in order to drive Labour voters into the arms of the Lib Dems.

Nor has he anything to say about the Tactical Voting Campaign group, in which the Labour candi­date is a prominent figure, producing literature over the Imprint of Mr Dash and his agent. And what does he have to say about the massive and illegal display of offi­cial Lib Dem posters along the highways and on tele­graph poles in the middle of the night before polling day? Absolutely nothing. Instead, he focused on the sort of petty issues which characterise most election campaigns, such as the cartoon of him trying and failing to ride two horses at once.

As he knows perfectly well, there is a world of difference between ordi­nary robust exchanges at election time and the Lib Dems’ ruthless tactics of cross-party collusion with a Labour candidate deter­mined to wreck his own campaign. Similarly, the blatant and mass flouting of legal restrictions on fly-posting in which the Lib Dems engaged in 2005 went way beyond anything done by any party in 2001 or 1997.

His letter shows that he is both incorrigible and shameless, and I feel very sad about that.

Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
New Forest East

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'ANTI-TORY VOTING CAMPAIGN BACKFIRED'

Southern Dally Echo – 26 June 2005

If the result of the election in New Forest East is anything to go by, the tactical voting from collusion between the Liberal Democrats and the Labour candidate completely backfired: Julian Lewis ended up with more votes than both of them put together.

Far from being rattled by the antics of the New Forest tactical voting group as Lee Dunsdon asserts (Letters, June 10), we Conservatives are merely disgusted with them.

Councillor DI BROOKS
New Forest East Conservatives

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'DAMNED EITHER WAY'

Southern Daily Echo – 6 July 2005

For many years, the Liberal Democrats have passed themselves off as the 'nice guys' of British politics. In fact, they are the most unscrupulous campaigners as their internal documents admit.

As always with Liberal Democrats, their latest spokesman, Martin Kyrle (Letters, June 29) wants it both ways: if I had lost the election thanks to the stitch-up between the local Labour and Liberal Democrat candidates, I should not have complained about their collusion because that would be the mark of a bad loser.

Since I won with an increased majority, I am not supposed to complain about his party’s rule-breaking and devious tactics because that means I am a bad winner.

In short, these Liberal Democrats do not want their victims to complain about them whether their dirty tricks succeed or whether they fail. Luckily, it seems, the people of New Forest East have finally seen through them.

Dr JULIAN LEWIS MP
New Forest East