There has been a complaint about the
6th May’s blog, the one in which I
expressed disappointment that the Erith & Thamesmead Conservative Association
website was continuing to say that the Labour Parliamentary candidate had been
“difficult”, and her supporters worse, days after serious doubt had been cast on the statement.
Click image for the original complete web page.
The matter would have been laid to rest except that the complainant has asked
for the blog to be modified retrospectively because it associates one
Conservative, about whom I know little, with the long list of Bexley Conservatives who have proved
themselves to be less than pleasant people many times over.
I am reluctant to change history significantly or attempt to completely obliterate any mistake I may have made but I will clarify things in the hope that the complainant will feel less aggrieved.
Long before the election campaign began in earnest the Labour candidate for Erith & Thamesmead told me that she very much hoped that the Conservatives would not run a dirty campaign. Given some of the personalities behind it, I could easily identify with her fears.
The local Labour campaign was remarkably clear of negativity. My literature collection only includes the word Conservative once. Stefano Borella (PPC, Bexleyheath & Crayford) mentioned Bexley council’s failure in the area of Children’s Services, a simple statement of fact. Their websites were clean too and to be frank, Labour doesn’t appear to have the expertise to post hurried and possibly ill-considered updates.
The most damaging part of the Conservative’s web attack on Teresa Pearce was first made public by the sponsor of the ill-fated Erith & Thamesmead hustings and its author, or maybe its co-author, was a leading member of the Conservative election team. It may be that the statement was insufficiently checked but the E & T hustings were cancelled at the 11th hour and it was essential that a message was put out quickly.
As you might imagine, Teresa Pearce was very upset at being labelled difficult when all she had done was voice her concerns about the possibility of a legal challenge if a Tory chairman at the hustings proved to be a problem. I have a copy of the email, it is entirely reasonable in tone, and she was right to be concerned. After taking advice, the sponsor agreed. It was his main reason for calling a halt. The reference to personal attacks was redundant.
Not only was the reference redundant but enquiries suggested it was untrue. No one could produce evidence beyond “I can’t remember exactly what was said and by whom” and the Facebook page on which the ‘personal attacks’ may have taken place was hastily removed. One might surmise that a Tory organised website would not have disappeared if it contained evidence of abuse by Labour councillors and supporters.
The Facebook page has been partially recreated from screen shots. There is nothing in it that I consider to be anywhere near being abusive.
The complaint came from Elizabeth Anderson, one time Conservative local election candidate, writing from her Conservative Future email address. She began by saying that my blog footnote referring to Anderson Shelters was unnecessary as she knew what one was, well I suppose you would if your name is Anderson.
Ms. Anderson says she posted the page critical of Teresa Pearce in haste and I am sure everyone can appreciate that the weekend before an election is going to be busy and there may not be time to check one’s sources. However the eagerness to post negativity is in marked contrast to Teresa’s wish for a clean campaign.
Elizabeth Anderson has written “I do feel the tone at the end of your blog post is entirely unreasonable” and that I “should not judge anyone purely by any experiences you may have with others”. She goes on to state that she believes I once shared her political views. She is right, I still do but in Bexley the Labour people are so very much nicer than most Tories have proved to be.
Ms. Anderson removed the offending webpage when she realised it may not have reflected the whole truth, but not until the day after the election when any damage it may have done had been done. I am happy to accept that Ms. Anderson is not like some of the Tories with whom she is associated. They may not have bothered to remove unjustified criticism, Elizabeth did. Anna Firth didn’t.