I often wonder why some Lib Dems in Cambridgeshire lack integrity. I have to say that there are exceptions to this, honourable councillors motivated to do good, but they are in the minority. Falsely claiming success is normal behaviour. Not letting the truth stand in the way of a good story is clearly also normal.
I suspect that the Lib Dem campaign guide has something to do with it.
The underhand tactics evidently often deployed by the Lib Dems at the local level could perhaps best be described by this one line from a campaigning guide published by a group representing Lib Dem councillors.
“be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly”
The strategy guide titled Effective Opposition, first exposed back in 2002 but remaining available for several years until discontinued, set out clearly the group’s attitude to how Lib Dem campaigners should approach local elections.
Published by the Association of Liberal Democrat Councillors (ALDC) – an autonomous but official ‘Associated Organisation’ of the party – the handbook’s most controversial recommendation was to: “be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly”.
However it also advises candidates to “exaggerate” claims and to use a range of other negative campaigning tactics.
On page 23 the handbook advises candidates “Don’t be afraid to exaggerate” and on page 4 “Positive campaigning will NOT be enough to win control of the council.”
On page 6 the handbook encourages duplicity, saying “you can secure support from voters who normally vote Tory by being effectively anti-Labour and similarly in a Tory area secure Labour votes by being anti-Tory.”
We’re finding evidence of all these tactics being employed in the Lib Dems’ local campaigning.
What this publication shows is that the incidents we’re uncovering can’t just be dismissed as the ill-judged actions of the occasional ‘bad apple’, but are instead symptomatic of broader, rotten attitudes to democracy.