Blackheath! Only the Lib Dems can mislead here!

I grumbled earlier about dodgy graphs used by Greenwich Labour in their local election campaign – massively downplaying the Liberal Democrat and Green votes to whip up the anti-Conservative vote. When I fumed about this, a Labour figure whispered in my ear: “Have you seen the Blackheath Westcombe Liberal Democrat leaflet?” I hadn’t, I said, and anyway, it wouldn’t suddenly make the crap Labour had put out right.

I’ve just come across the Liberal Democrat leaflet, put out on behalf of Blackheath Westcombe candidates Alexa Hills, Michael Smart and Chris Smith. And actually, it really does beggar belief:

Blackheath Westcombe Lib Dem leaflet

That graph actually bears no relation to any kind of election result in Blackheath Westcombe ward. Instead, it tots up the figures for Blackheath Westcombe (Greenwich borough – 2 Tory and 1 Labour councillor), Blackheath (Lewisham borough – 3 Lib Dems, also includes parts of SE10 and SE13) and Middle Park & Sutcliffe (Greenwich borough, 2 Lib Dems and 1 Labour, only covers a small part of SE3) to come up with a figure which makes the Liberal Democrats look strong in an area where they are actually very weak. To be fair, the leaflet does contain some small print to explain this (more than Labour did with their made-up graphs) but this is just rubbish – three wards, two boroughs, and some very different issues across the area.

In the end, though, the great London-wide surge to Labour saw the two Lib Dems knocked out in Greenwich’s Middle Park & Sutcliffe ward, and one of the Lib Dems losing in Lewisham’s Blackheath ward. The leaflet didn’t seem to work well in Blackheath Westcombe either, which remains split between Labour and Conservative. It might have been easier if they told the truth after all.

These leaflets are quite common from the Lib Dems, although the party’s weakness in this borough means they’re rarely seen in Greenwich. Those who are hoping the Lib Dems’ new-found influence on whatever government we’ll end up with will lead us into an era of squeaky-clean politics may just be disappointed.


  1. They get my vote for creative analysis.
    There’s something to be said about Green bar charts in Lewisham too though.

    Apart from the questionable “only the Greens can beat Labour here…the Lib Dems have no chance here” when at the previous general election in Lewisham Deptford Greens came in fact 4th and Lib Dems 2nd, but what really got my attention was that the bar chart was referring to the “2006 local election result for Lewisham Deptford Constituency” which is a contradiction in terms as in 2006 there wasn’t an election for Lewisham Deptford, because Lewisham Deptford is a parliamentary constituency and therefore that election was in 2005. In 2006 the local election was for Wards and Council, and since none the wards within the then Lewisham Deptford were Lib Dem target then Greens were second.
    It’s more difficult to explain why it’s nonsense when compared to the bar chart of the Greenwich Lib Dems but it still adds apples with pears for the same reason.

  2. Deptford Dame brought the Lewisham Green barchart up in an earlier post – I think I’ve seen it before, but hadn’t taken that much notice of their general election stuff so really can’t comment on it.

    I’m not a big fan of not comparing like with like, though, whichever party does it – it gets people’s backs up.

  3. It appears we all have form, but I have a feeling that its the Lib Dems who are the leading bar charters; proving they are indeed “winning here”.

  4. Victory at least.

    But since we’re on the subject let’s not forget the tories, and not the now famous Mayoral election chart, but the chart with the variation of the vote in the Downham by-election, where Libdems (who won the by-election) were in the negative for having had a reduced share of the vote compared to the previous election, whilst Tories were towering above all else for the reason that their vote had risen from risible to negligible.

  5. Oh crikey. TOO MANY MAYORS. It’s like Foursquare. Actually, Greenwich Tories were fond of quoting mayoral election results too.

    We don’t have mayors in Royal Greenwich. We just get told what to do.

  6. We do have a mayor in Greenwich… Maccarthur or whatever his name is, he looked like he had been on pimp my mayor… He is a councillor for Charlton… Janet Gillman is also ex mayor, another Charlton councillor…

  7. Some of the graphs I’ve seen in this election show bars that bear no relation to the numbers they are claiming to represent (though not in Greenwich). That is fraud, pure and simple.

    If you tried to sell a product using such misleading ‘facts’ you’d rightly face consumer protection legislation. Why not here?

  8. I wrote this leaflet and constructed this graph. I made it quite clear in large print (not the usual microscopic dots) which you reproduce, how this was calculated. I would argue that it is drawn accurately and not “creatively” as is so often the case. I was also responding to a widespread feeling, which I share, that Blackheath should not be sliced and diced between wards, boroughs and constituencies but should be one political unit (this will never happen). Thus I disagree with your comment that different issues apply to these areas – in fact the opposite is the case. I am sorry but this leaflet is not a lie, as you also state, and our share of the vote went up significantly last week in this ward – we lost but I am happy to congratulate the winning Labour and Conservative candidates. Complaints about inventiveness I would accept, claims about deception I would not – the aim was to say that residents like you the reader do vote Lib Dem in large numbers in this area and I made it clear which area I was talking about. Politics is not for the faint hearted but if you are going to fight, fight fair, and that is what we did despite the results.

  9. […] The real hero of Foottunnelgate, and lead on the broadcast, is Daryll Chamberlain, writer of the independent Greenwich blog, 853. He has been leading the charge and has put many to shame locally through his persistent and extraordinary coverage of this growing fiasco. He summarises his fantastic two-year campaign here.  Oh and just to make clear that Greenwich Lib Dems are not pleading for special treatment as a result of this accolade! I am sure we would be in the firing line just as much as any –  as I have already found out! […]

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