Lib Dem PPC quits over website

by Stephen Tall on April 30, 2009

Oh well, that’ll learn me. A fortnight ago, I reported in highly sceptical terms a story in the Carlisle News & Star about the involvement of Lib Dem parliamentary candidate for Carlisle, Steven Tweedie, in an anonymous website “calling for Eric Martlew to be ousted as Carlisle’s MP”.

As I remarked at the time, the now-defunct (still available to view via Google’s cache here) was innocuous stuff, for example suggesting visitors “wish him good luck in his retirement or ask him what he intends to do about some of the key issues facing Carlisle”.

It was ill-advised I guess for Cllr Tweedie to agree to ‘babysit’ the site – Parliamentary candidates should stay above this kind of thing – but I’m still genuinely surprised to read that he’s felt it necessary to resign over what appears to be a pretty minor matter. Yet that is what Teletext North East is reporting has happened:

Carlisle Lib Dem Steven Tweedie has apologised for running a website attacking local Labour MP Eric Martlew. Mr Tweedie has spoken to Mr Martlew and written a letter of unreserved apology for his “negative tactics and ungentlemanly behaviour”. The city councillor for Dalston has also quit as the party’s parliamentary candidate at the next General Election.

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If Tory and Labour candidates resigned whenever they launched that sort of attack, you’d be lucky to find any left at all.

by Costigan Quist on April 30, 2009 at 8:02 am. Reply #

Why resign over such tame stuff? Nothing personally objectionable about the website, and surely all rival PPCs want to say byebye to the sitting MP? Perhaps he just came to the conclusion that this wasn’t the life for him…

by Simon Courtenage on April 30, 2009 at 8:08 am. Reply #

The cache of the home page makes it look quite innocent, was there anything worse in any of its links? The attacks were on Labour policy rather than on Mr Martlew personally. However, the news reports mention “a photo of Mr Martlew with a highwayman’s mask superimposed on it”, which doesn’t appear on the cache.

Having experienced a Labour Party campaign which involved a leaflet containing some 20 (can’t remember the exact number, about that anyway) terms of abuse directed at me when I was standing for re-election as a councillor, I know there’s much worse. But it is childish, unnecessary because we have plenty of positive things to say to sell ourselves, and if we want to clean up politics, which I think should be a big part of our platform, our line should be “Yes, the other parties engage in this sort of thing – we don’t, bye-bye Steven Tweedie”.

Apart from the content, the fact that he seems to have been behind it all the time, and his reaction seems to have been to tell cover-up lies and change his story each time the last lie was found out is damning. We know that government ministers have been hounded out for similar, we must make it quite clear we don’t want people like that as MPs for our party. Also, given the ease at which such things as to whom a website is registered can be found out, it reveals him as rather stupid and I don’t think we want people like that as our MPs either.

However, Mr Tweedie is partly redeemed by his prompt and principled resignation. If we want to be supportive our line should be to applaud him for that. I would also like to see the resignation from political party activity of all those responsible for silly stunts such as dressing people up as chickens or toffs or whatever, demon-eyes posters, and anything else which does not involve straight promotion of policy and fair argument against opponents’ policies.

by Matthew Huntbach on April 30, 2009 at 9:26 am. Reply #

The curse of the third-placed PPC strikes again! The priority in Carlisle (and in other Labour seats held from the Tories with majorities over 10 points) should be to block a Tory Commons majority by ensuring Labour hold the seat. But in seats Labour holds from the Tories by under 6 points like, say, Dumfries and Galloway, the priority should be to secure a Tory gain and the erasing of the current Labour Commons majority. I would prefer that the Lib Dems contest neither seat, but if that is seen as too bizarre ‘training fire’ on the Tories in Carlisle, but Labour in Dumfries, seems to me the next best thing.

by Hugh on April 30, 2009 at 1:00 pm. Reply #

No Hugh, what we ‘should’ be doing is to offer everyone in the land a chance to vote positively for the principles and policies we present to them at a general election. The ‘broad front/narrow front’ argument was settled over 30 years ago, thank goodness. We fight everywhere and we fight to win: we know that realistically there are many seats where we will not stand a chance of winning at the next election, but we can win hearts and minds, we can win recruits, we can win the next generation of activists who can create the organisation to win the seats you are writing off.

by tony hill on April 30, 2009 at 5:39 pm. Reply #

Well said, Tony.

We made a mistake by playing Hugh’s kind of electoral tactics early in the last century and the result was that Labour replaced us as the 2nd party in British politics.

Fight every seat and fight as hard as you can. THAT is the Third Party’s role if it has ANY hope of being a serious contender.

by Tom Papworth on May 1, 2009 at 11:34 pm. Reply #

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