Friday, 27 April 2007

Labour's negative campaigning is an indication of their desperation

Labour's negative campaigning in Redcar & Cleveland knows no bounds. Their election material is full of one liners that only those most clued up on local and national issues can understand. Their campaign is desperate and dishonest. It seeks to mislead the public.

Unlike the Lib Dems they have not published a local manifesto and the Labour leader told Council officials that they were not prepared to tell them what their plans are until after the election. Obviously they intend to make it up as they go along in just the same way as they are insulting the intelligence of the electors with misleading one-liners.

The Labour MP, Vera Baird, is even worse. She has published the most juvenile of glossy leaflets containing all sorts of silly, over the top, one-liners like - "Racing at Redcar - they'll sell it off for thousands more houses. Labour is searching, with the Action Group, for a new owner to safeguard our racecourse - the heart of our town."

We cannot sell off Redcar racecourse because we do not own it. There is not room on the site for thousands of houses - is this woman really a top QC?

The sight of Labour Councillors pictured outside the main entrance of the racecourse looking like they were on a Mafia day trip is an image that filled me with horror. To have them meddling in the boardroom politics of a private company is alarming. It puts at serious risk the future of racing at Redcar.

It is interesting to note that Labour's lack of support is really showing in the time it is taking them to deliver Vera's missive. We have distributed our response in a number of wards BEFORE Labour have even got Vera's out.

The other night I came in from delivering leaflets in Kirkleatham Ward and before I could get the curtains closed I noticed that one of the Labour candidates had rushed into the courtyard I live in and put Labour's glossy "Lib Dems soft on crime" leaflet through three of the 16 letterboxes. Mine, my daughter Kelly's (who lives next door but one) and another house. He then went over to West Dyke ward and put it through Lib Dem Councillor Joyce Benbow's letterbox and her next door neighbour's. What is that all about I wonder?

Just for the record here is a response to the soft on crime one-liners that Labour hope to mislead the public about.

Lib Dems. Against Labour’s tough anti-social behaviour measures.
Lib Dems voted against the Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, Hansard, 24 June 2003

Lib Dems. Against Labour’s measures to break-up teen gangs.
Lib Dems votes against dispersal orders, Anti-Social Behaviour Act 2003, 24 June 2003

(NB. These two are basically the same thing.)

Labour think just because a piece of legislation claims it will deal with anti-social behaviour anyone voting against it thinks anti-social behaviour is a good thing. That's as ridiculous as saying anyone voting against an education bill doesn't believe in education! Liberal Democrats have supported a wide range of government measures to tackle anti-social behaviour, such as the 1998 legislation bringing in ASBOs, and in many areas have been ahead of the government in developing new ways to combat anti-social behaviour. (The Acceptable Behaviour Contract pioneered by Lib Dems in Islington has been praised by the Home Secretary, Charles Clarke, as being "better than an ASBO". (Question Time, BBC1, 03/03/05)) But on this occasion we voted against the Bill (after trying to amend it) as we thought it wasn't the best way forward.

We supported some of the policies in the 2003 Act (e.g. Powers to close down crack houses and restrict use of air guns and imitation weapons), but we voted against the Act as a whole, principally over the issue of dispersal orders (sometimes characterised as “powers to break up teen gangs”). We believe that they were –

(a) Unnecessary - the existing public order laws adequately covered the various circumstances in which the police might need to act to disperse groups.

(b) Illiberal - the new powers enable police intervention and arrest purely on the basis of someones presence - even if they are doing nothing wrong. This breaches the right to freedom of movement and assembly, and in theory the power could be abused by the police, for example to harass ethnic minorities.

(c) Potentially counterproductive - the Association of Chief Police Officers said, when the Bill was going through Parliament, that the powers would “not be enthusiastically used” because they would be likely to create divisions between the officers and the communities they police.

(d) Not getting to the root of the problem - the powers enable police to move groups on, but they do nothing to prevent the group from causing trouble elsewhere or behaving badly in general. We believe other proposals (such as our plans for more - and more visible – police and community support officers) would make a greater impact on anti-social behaviour.

However, despite these concerns, we would not scrap the dispersal order powers. We have always recognised that the powers can be used in a helpful way and Lib Dems in local government have worked with the police to find positive ways to use them. We support their use where people are harassing, intimidating, alarming or distressing others, but not where it is on the basis of their presence alone. We would amend the law to take this into account and add safeguards against their misuse.

Lib Dems. Against Labour’s measures to restrict the sale of graffiti spray paints to teenagers.
Opposed measures to limit the sale of spray paint to teenagers, 24 June 2003

This is misleading. Liberal Democrat MPs and councils have been at the forefront of many successful campaigns against graffiti in their areas. We believe graffiti is a serious problem that should be deterred through a combination of street patrols and quick action by local authorities to remove graffiti as it appears.

We were at the forefront of efforts to stop the sale of spray paint to children (e.g. Lib Dem Sutton LBC's voluntary code of practice for retailers to stop sales of spray paint to 10-16 years olds) and welcomed proposals in this area in the Government's Anti-Social Behaviour Bill 2003.

The disagreement was simply that we thought the age at which people should be able to buy spray paints should be 16, while the Government wanted 18 (we were successful in amending the Bill in this respect). This did not prevent us supporting most of the other measures on graffiti in the Bill, including fixed penalty notices.

In Redcar & Cleveland we have a fast response team for the removal of graffiti from public building and usually manage to remove it the same day.

Lib Dems. Against sending teen criminals to court.
Policy Motion F46 ‘Punishment and Rehabilitation of Offenders’ was passed by Lib Dem Conference in Bournemouth, 23 September 2004

Our policy is that 13 and 14 year old teenagers should be brought before a court at the discretion of the Crown Prosecution Service where their actions mark them out as being dangerous and a threat to society.

Those whose crimes are not serious should be dealt with through the children's system which has a better record at rehabilitation. The children’s system has a better record because it is staffed with experts who understand how to intervene to help children with behavioural problems and prevent them from slipping into a life of crime. Under our policy teenagers aged 15 and older would continue to be dealt with through the courts in the normal way.

Lib Dems. Against jail sentences for drug possession.
Lib Dems ‘Law and Order Mini Manifesto’, page 8, 29 March 2005

Of course drug users who commit crimes like burglary or robbery to feed a drug habit should go to prison. And drug dealers should continue to expect long prison sentences. But where individuals are prosecuted simply for having a small amount of a drug in their possession for their own personal use, and no additional crime has been committed, then compulsory treatment should be used instead of prison. Courts could still make use of Drug Treatment and Testing Orders (DTTOs), fines, and other criminal penalties.

Promoted by C. Abbott 39 Essex Close, Redcar, Yorkshire, TS10 4BY, on behalf of the Liberal Democrats, of 39 Essex Close, Redcar, Yorkshire, TS10 4BY.

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