Question: What does a government do with a steaming great pile of sweaty nuclear facility that once had a reactor catch fire and cause one of the most serious atomic accidents in history? The answer is they change the name of the facility from ‘Windscale’ to ‘Sellafield’. In a stroke they break the connection in some people’s minds between ‘Windscale’ the steaming great heap of accident prone nuclear plant and the new ‘Sellafield’ with its brave new world of advanced safety procedures and better environmental protections. At the time when the name Sellafield started to be used to describe Windscale, many people viewed the name change as a cynical public relations move. It also looked like a dishonest attempt by the UK Government to bury the stinking corpse which was the toxic legacy of Windscale’s fires, toxic discharges and large stores of unknown radioactive sludge.
Now that you’ve had the nuclear history lesson, it is time to get down to the meat of this story, which is one particular politician who appears to be so ashamed of her party that she has decided to go all ‘Windscale/Sellafield’ on her potential voters and do her utmost to erase party affiliation from her election communication.
This blog has been sent by a contact, an item of election communication from the Liberal Democrat party and it is a right dodgy piece of work. Designed to look at first glance like a reasonably printed and designed community magazine, it turns out in fact to be an election communication from one Lucy Hurds, the Lib Dem candidate for Hereford and South Herefordshire. What was interesting about this was not the usual electoral self-aggrandisement that you expect to see in an election leaflet but both the magazine-like style and the fact that Ms Hurds has taken great pains to make hardly any mention of the fact that she is standing for the Liberal Democrats. The header picture for this post is from the front cover of the fake ‘Herefordshire View’ magazine and the entire document can be found posted below this piece.
Have the Liberal Democrats become so unpopular that candidates like Ms Hurds have to treat them like a previous government treated the rickety accident prone nuclear facility at Windscale and try to distance themselves from them? It seems that the Liberal Democrats are quite happy to have Ms Hurds associated with them but Ms Hurds seems less than willing to wave the party flag as vigorously as she could. The eight page glossy ‘Herefordshire View’ magazine put out by Ms Hurds makes no mention that she is standing for the Liberal Democrats, apart from one tiny single reference, on the bottom of the back cover in approximately 10 point type.
Regular readers of this blog may have come across Ms Hurds and her media outings before. A while back she came to this blog’s attention because she gave fulsome public backing to plans to open a Halal slaughterhouse in Weobley, Herefordshire, but rapidly backtracked when she found out that this would be a no-stun slaughterhouse. This was despite those planning the slaughterhouse having the words ‘no stun’ prominently featured on the company’s publicity. This blog pointed out at the time that it is difficult to trust a candidate who not only doesn’t read the small print but seemingly could not be arsed even to read the larger print.
The Lib Dems of Hereford and South Herefordshire must have some idea just how poisonous the Lib Dem brand has become, to pull a stunt like this. The local Lib Dems must sailing as close to the letter of electoral law as possible with this leaflet. Yes, the leaflet does, eventually, state that Ms Hurds is standing for the Liberal Democrats but they have made it damned difficult for those who are non-politically engaged to sus out for which party she is standing.
Those of us who have grown increasingly troubled by the actions of the Lib Dems, that proven party of perverts, perjurers and the eternally untrustworthy, are not surprised to see them put out a leaflet that almost gives the impression that Ms Hurds is standing as an independent, but we are disgusted.
When electoral communications are put out by political parties, candidates should make it very plain to their readers which party it is that is putting out those communications. This particular election leaflet doesn’t make it at all plain to the casual reader that Ms Hurds is standing for the Lib Dems, and although it probably complies with the words of electoral law, it seems very much divorced from its spirit.
If I was a voter in Hereford and South Herefordshire, I would want nothing to do with a Parliamentary candidate who not only puts her foot firmly in her mouth over the issue of a Halal slaughterhouse on her patch, but who is at best too timid, and at worst, too cowardly to stand openly and publicly under the flag of the party that has put her up for election, and funded her campaign to be a Member of Parliament. She might be local and also be committed to improving local services as she says, but I cannot help thinking that this particular type of sneaky and semi-dishonest campaign literature should tell the voter a lot about the core values of the person and party seeking election. I would not want as my MP someone who appears so ashamed of their party that they relegate the details of their party allegiance to a statement in tiny type at the bottom of the last page of an eight page document.
It is difficult not to hold in contempt any politician, of whatever party, who hides or tries to obfuscate their party allegiances. In Ms Hurds we seem to have a prospective politician who appears deeply ashamed of her political party and really, when you look at some of the things the Liberal Democrats have done, both in Government and in general, you can’t really blame her. If I found myself a member of a party that has as bad an image and history as the Liberal Democrats, then I’d be a bit ashamed as well.
So, if you are a voter in the Hereford and South Herefordshire constituency and you want to elect someone who stands by their views and who is not ashamed of their party, then don’t vote for Lucy Hurds, vote for someone else, anyone else. The people of Britain deserve better as MP’s than ‘Windscale’ candidates such as Lucy Hurds. There are a multitude of reasons to not vote for the Liberal Democrats, this is merely just another one.
Here are all the pages from the electoral communication that is designed to not look like an electoral communication.