Corbyn’s crew enter Cornish lists: Labour candidates named

In a brilliant bit of timing and a blaze fizzle of publicity, the Labour Party quietly announced its ‘Cornwall’ general election candidates a week ago. This was just as the TMaybot’s team descended on Cornwall to bark ‘strong and stable’ as much as they could at the travelling media circus while locking local reporters in a small room. Only a few days later Labour’s announcement wasn’t exactly front page news in the press on the day of the local elections. Perhaps it was in the ‘volunteers wanted’ section.

So who are the horny-handed sons and daughters of toil who will lead the ‘Cornwall’ masses to the sunny uplands of Corbynia, a curious mixture of the 1970s and 1940s, a place where everyone is friendly and smile at each other all day while earnestly not making up their minds about Brexit.

Anyone volunteering to be Labour candidate in the two eastern constituencies must have a strong death wish. North Cornwall is the most torrid territory for Labour, which just managed to save its deposit there in 2015. Their candidate this time is Joy Bassett, an Anglican lay minister in Bodmin who works at the family’s solicitors’ firm. She’ll be trying not to get squeezed by the Lib Dems (an awful fate at the best of times.)

The young Labour candidate in South East Cornwall made news last time around by disappearing on holiday with his mum halfway through the campaign. Traditionally, Labour in South East Cornwall has turned to Plymouth as a useful store of potential candidates and this time is no exception. Their more credible candidate comes in the shape of 59 year old Gareth Derrick who lives in Ivybridge. You may remember – well, you probably won’t – that he was Labour’s candidate in the Police and Crime Commissioner elections in 2016.

Gareth’s experience of 36 years in the Royal Navy, where he ended up as a commander, and a subsequent business background in management consultancy, defence contracting and a ‘development’ company should enable him to stand up well to Sheryll Murray, if he gets the chance. Labour in South East Cornwall are actually only 4,000 votes behind the Lib Dems, who have looked on helplessly as the social basis of Liberalism in the constituency – the chapel and the Cornish working class – has disintegrated. The area has suffered large-scale gentrification, which has transformed it into a safe Tory seat.

In St Austell & Newquay and in St Ives, Labour also came fourth in 2015 and with very similar proportions of the vote – 9-10% – as in the South East. Kevin Neil in St Austell & Newquay is described as a ‘former resident’ who’s been back working in Cornwall since 2016. Kevin believes in democratic socialism and is working with Momentum trying to introduce such ideas to the Parliamentary Labour Party.

In St Ives Labour has chosen Chris Drew, a Cornish born and bred community worker and scion of a well-known Penzance family. Chris says he will offer a ‘real alternative’. It’ll be interesting however to see how much effort Labour puts into this seat, in the face of Lib Dem Andrew George’s desperate pleas for a ‘progressive alliance’. There are still 4,500 Labour votes up for grabs and George needs as many of those as possible to stand any chance at all against the fundamentalist-Brexit margins of Cornish politics.

Labour’s best two performances in 2015 came in Truro & Falmouth, where they scored 15% and almost beat the Lib Dems into second place, and Camborne and Redruth, where they did beat the Lib Dems (into fourth place) and got 25% of the vote. In Truro & Falmouth Jayne Kirkham is their candidate. She moved to Falmouth in 2006 and is a Labour member because she ‘believes in equality’. For her sake, let’s hope there are some redistributive policies with real teeth in their manifesto then.

Camborne and Redruth is Labour’s only realistic hope, but it’s still a very slim one. Trailing George Eustice by 7,000 votes in 2015, they need to ruthlessly squeeze every last Lib Dem vote, given the 7,000 Ukip voters who will, it’s reliably reported, have no Ukip candidate to vote for and will turn like sheep to what they think is a ‘strong and stable’ sheepdog but which turns out to be a ravenous wolf that’ll eat them alive.

Labour’s candidate has to be an improvement on Michael Foster, who they cruelly inflicted on the long-suffering local citizenry last time. This time they’re putting up a local resident who, to my knowledge, doesn’t have a second home. Graham Winter works as a senior advisor in waste management, a useful training for the House of Commons one might have thought. Born in Barnsley, he moved to Camborne in 2005 and is involved in various local activities.

Postscript: the Liberal Democrats in Camborne and Redruth are still keeping the identity of their candidate under wraps, while their websites seem to have been last updated in 2010. Here’s a suggestion for them – save your money and don’t bother.

Advertisements

General election: the return of the Liberal Democrats?

This snappiest of snap elections seems to have caught everyone on the hop. Why were we all fooled by Theresa May’s carefully crafted image as a latter-day Thatcher, given the number of U-turns she’s performed since taking over? But we were. Sage statements about fixed five-year terms and being too busy to be distracted by an election, while having absolutely no intention of cutting and running for a grubby power grab, lulled us into a false sense of security.

Just as we were concentrating on worrying how soon Trump and his generals would blunder into a nuclear holocaust, the Tories took our minds off that little problem by calling an election. The temptation of a 20% poll lead in the end proved too much for them, as the Conservative Party responded like Pavlov’s dogs to the one thing it always prioritised. Power. And as much of it as possible.

They also start their snappy election with a huge advantage over the opposition generally. At this stage of the Parliament there are few prospective candidates in place. If you’re not a sitting MP you won’t have the usual time to ease yourself into a constituency, pester the local media with unctuous press releases and generally glad-hand the great unwashed at fetes and festivals for all you’re worth. Instead, there’s just 22 days left to get selected and then another four weeks before the electorate exercises its measured and thoroughly considered decision.

Candidates who are already locally known could however narrow the gap to sitting MPs. The most exciting point for me on Tuesday, when the election was announced, was the news via twitter that Kernow King was going to stand for Talskiddy Treacle Mine. Sadly this turned out be one of those fake news items, a bitter disappointment to all and sundry. In the absence of KK, we have to make do with Liberal Democrats. You might not have realised it, but because Cornwall is one of their few obvious targets, that party has got its potential candidates lined up in five of the six seats.

In South East Cornwall, Phil Hutty is standing again against the redoubtably seasoned Sheryll Murray. Although her massive 17,000 vote majority two years back, over 50% of the poll, plus a decent Ukip vote to mop up, means it looks like more of a case of curtains again for Phil, who any rational observer would say hasn’t the proverbial cat’s chance in hell.

Dan Rogerson will have a lot more chance in North Cornwall. He’ll be relieved his constituency has been accidentally reprieved by the Tories’ casual binning of the fixed-term parliament act and the consequent boundary changes which bring a devonwall constituency with them. That horrendous prospect has not gone away, note, just been postponed, to hang like Damocles’ sword over the Tamar as it peacefully snakes its way to the sea.

Further west are two constituencies where the Lib Dems have put Cornwall Councillors in place as candidates. In St Austell & Newquay Joanna Kenny is attempting to follow the Tories’ Steve Double and Scott Mann and make the leap from local government to the Commons. According to the Lib Dems’ website her current campaigns ‘include upgrading her local playground and dealing with the perennial problem of irresponsible dog owners.’ Which should get the assorted plutocrats and madmen who try to run things these days quaking in their boots. ‘Kim Jong-Un and Donald Trump, have you got your poo-bags with you?’

In Truro & Falmouth Rob Nolan carries the Lib Dem banner and looks a more credible MP. Rob has an excellent record of striving, often against the direction of his own party, to moderate Cornwall Council’s mad infatuation with housing and population growth as it rushes to transform Cornwall into a replica of everywhere else as quickly as possible. His only problem is that Sarah Newton had a huge 14,000 vote majority last time around, converting Truro & Falmouth into a safe Tory seat. Except that, with its relatively high number of public sector professionals in Truro and its Guardian-reading intelligentsia and student voters at the universities at Penryn, the constituency doesn’t feel like a bog-standard safe Tory haven in the shires. There’s also a sizeable Labour and Green vote to try to squeeze.

The Lib Dems’ best hope of winning a seat back from the Tories clearly comes in St Ives. Andrew George has been pushing hard for a ‘progressive alliance’ between Lib Dems, Labour, MK and Green people since being beaten in 2015 by Derek Thomas. Cynics might say he would, wouldn’t he. But, as the most independent of Cornwall’s Lib Dem MPs during their disastrous 2015 coalition with the Tories he can distance himself somewhat from any toxic fall-out that may linger among voters. Moreover, most of them seem to have distressingly short political memories.

However, for his call on members of other parties to support him, the Lib Dems surely need to make some reciprocal gestures. Having spurned the chance to do so at the local elections, what are they now proposing? For starters, how about offering to stand down in Brighton and give Caroline Lucas a clear run in return for no Green in St Ives? As Green Party overtures to Labour and Liberal Democrats seem to be being rejected out of hand, there looks little chance of this. The opposition unionist parties are stubbornly determined to prefer suicide to any hint of official collaboration or new thinking. Strange.

Let’s not forget the final constituency – Camborne-Redruth. Here, the Liberal Democrats have no candidate that I can spot, but neither does Labour, although this is supposedly one of their target seats and the only one in Cornwall where they have any chance at all. Nor is George Eustice’s 7,000 vote majority by any means the safest. With no obvious well-known local Labour figure in the frame (or Lib Dem come to that) developments must be awaited. The only thing there is general agreement on is, whatever you do, please, please don’t inflict Michael Foster on us again. (Or Julia Goldsworthy come to that.)

Camborne & Redruth: Coalition set to retain seat

The old Falmouth-Camborne seat was a three-way marginal from the 1990s to 2005. Yet, like the majority of the other Cornish seats, the new Camborne & Redruth seat is looking a safe bet for the Tories this year with a ragtag of competitors struggling to win second place and with their eye on the election after next.

Julia Goldsworthy was once Lib Dem MP here. Ah, those were the days, the days before the expenses scandal, the financial crash caused by having too many nurses and teachers, or the failed austerity policies of the Tory/Lib Dem Government. She’ll now be lucky to get third place as the latest poll in this constituency puts her behind Ukip. As Lib Dem activity in the constituency has withered away, so have Julia’s poll ratings. Those who voted for her last time to keep the Tory out have now deserted in droves and she’s down to a pathetic 13 or 14% in the polls, an astonishing 24% drop on the Lib Dem score in 2010.

It’s unlikely she’ll actually do that badly, but a toxic hangover of Cleggite Liberal Toryism, the whiff of dodgy expenses claims that clings to her and an inability to shake off the tag of Westminster insider-ism dogs Julia. It looks like the end of the line for her, which induces a momentary and unaccountable spasm of pity as she’s actually one of the better Lib Dem candidates on offer in Cornwall.

Crowds wait at Camborne for Loveday Jenkin to speak
Crowds wait at Camborne for Loveday Jenkin to speak

While Julia is doomed, former Lib Dem voters may as well cast around for other homes for their protest votes. Such as the Greens’ Geoff Garbett or MK’s Loveday Jenkin. The Greens were spotted canvassing a deserted Redruth Fore Street on bank holiday morning and will be looking to save their deposit. Loveday, scion of one of Cornish nationalism’s royal families, has fought a robust campaign and will be looking to add to the 775 votes she got in 2010.

Although a rather late choice following an earlier typical Ukip candidate cock-up disaster, Bob Smith of Ukip has been taking his band of angry middle-aged men leafleting and canvassing through the streets of Camborne-Redruth and especially the Ukip heartland of Hayle (what is it about Hayle?) Ukip was at one point tipped to be a serious contender here as it looked like a three-way marginal – Tory/Labour/Ukip – last summer. But the Ukip surge faded and he’ll do well now to retain third place.

Labour voters on way to poll at Redruth
Labour voters on way to poll at Redruth

However, for a properly angry middle-aged man, we have to turn to Labour. Labour has taken a novel approach this time, adopting as its candidate a self-made millionaire from London with a holiday home on the Helford who made his fortune advising media celebrities. Michael Foster claims he’s a new sort of politician. It’s difficult to see why. It can’t be, as he asserts, because he’s a businessman. The House of Commons and even the Labour Party is stuffed full of those these days. Indeed, he seems to be ‘new’ in the sense of being very old. Ross Poldark would have been very familiar with Foster’s political style as it reminds us of the eighteenth century when candidates would throw their money around to buy seats in pocket boroughs.

Pouring his own money into the constituency, Foster has been wildly outspending other candidates in the run-up to the election. But this new very old candidate has also injected some much-needed controversy. Sailing close to the wind when soliciting postal voting and making the usual outrageous statistical misrepresentations, Michael Foster was then accused of directing a volley of earthy cursing and threats against MK’s Loveday Jenkin at a hustings. The former Labour parliamentary candidate here, Jude Robinson, has loyally dismissed the allegations as not containing a word of truth and just being ‘silly stuff’.

Michael Foster tries to look sweet
Michael Foster tries to look sweet

While losing your rag with Loveday is something that’s hardly impossible, as anyone who has sat through a meeting with her might attest, the notion that she went to such inordinate and excessive lengths and concocted such an extensive and elaborate fabrication is just not credible. It might also be easier to believe it was all made up had there not previously been a series of bizarre episodes where Michael Foster’s anger management issues appear to have got the better of him. For example, he threw a mobile phone at Tory MP Sheryll Murray during a BBC TV debate, is reported to have blown up at the Greens’ Geoff Garbett at an earlier hustings, lost it when questioned by a student at a Tremough event, and has been alleged to have tried to take away Truro Ukip candidate John Hyslop’s phone on another occasion, almost provoking a fight.

Just make sure you don’t stand anywhere near him at the count when the results come out. As it doesn’t look as if this unsettling mix of eighteenth century political style and the usual bullying and arrogant bluster that seems to overcome the Labour party when in Cornwall will work. While all this nonsense goes on, PR lobbyist and strawberry farmer George Eustice calmly and quietly slides his way back into Parliament, courtesy of the very poor choice of candidates made by the old London-orientated parties.

Here’s my forecast.

1. Eustice (Con) 34%
2. Foster (Lab) 22%
3. Goldsworthy (Lib Dem) 20%
4. Smith (Ukip) 15%
5. Garbett (GP) 7%
6. Jenkin (MK) 2%

BBC South West and the election

Local BBC TV has two outlets for its election coverage. First, there’s the daily dose of ‘news’ on Spotlight. I’d meant to monitor that but what with a couple of attacks of nausea and falling asleep in the first week, the project disintegrated as the will to live was rapidly lost. Which leaves the Sunday Politics South West show. There have been four offerings of this since the election campaign began. So what does it tell us about the BBC’s approach to the elections in Cornwall and Devon? The first conclusion is that Cornwall-based candidates do rather well, being given considerably more than their fair share of airtime. One can only suppose that this is because the BBC insists in claiming that coalition-coalition ‘marginals’ are somehow of great relevance to the election outcome. Whatever, of the 15 candidates invited to appear on the show (including the upcoming one next Sunday) we find that nine are based in Cornwall and only six in Devon, despite there being twice as many seats east of the Tamar. Sun Pols seats and cands Two Tory candidates, one each from Labour, the Greens and Ukip and an incredible four of the six Lib Dem candidates in Cornwall have or will appear on the show. By constituency, four of the six candidates in Camborne-Redruth have been offered a place on the programme. St Ives has seen two of its candidates, while the other four seats have had one of theirs appear. Adding in the Devon-based candidates, we have a total of four Tories, four Lib Dems and four Labour, two from Ukip and one Green. Given their polling strength in Cornwall and Devon, the Lib Dems and Labour seem to have come out best. Overall, the total coverage (expressed purely in the number of seconds allocated to party spokespersons speaking) for the first four shows broke down as follows. sun pols party airtime If we convert this to percentages and then allow for the over-representation of Cornish seats in the show, and go on to compare that with the number of candidates, we get the following percentage breakdown …

Airtime Candidates
Conservatives 28.3% 16%
Labour 26.0% 16%
Lib Dems 20.2% 16%
Ukip 16.9% 16%
Greens 8.2% 16%
MK 0.6% 9%
SNP/PC 0.0% 12%

There seems to be a bias towards the two bigger Westminster parties, while the Lib Dems and Ukip also get more than their number of candidates should entitle them to. The Greens don’t get their fair share of airtime. Meanwhile, neither does MK, which is almost invisible. Indeed, anyone relying on the BBC for information might be surprised to discover they’re standing in this election. They’d also be astonished to find that there are 12 other candidates, including three TUSC/Left Unity and two Communist Party candidates in Devon, one from the National Health Action Party in Cornwall and another half a dozen assorted Independents and odds and sods. Moving from quantity to quality, let’s review the four programmes we’ve had to endure. On the first (28th March) Phil Hutty for the Lib Dems was a bit out of his depth, admitting that his party would ‘take a hit’, a rather pessimistic conclusion one might have thought with over four weeks of the campaign still to go. There was some discussion of planning and neighbourhood plan referenda. Apparently, these are examples of ‘devolution’. Although the presenter did introduce this by the comment that the word ‘devolution’ conjures up an ‘image of nationalists in Scotland, Wales and yes, those in Cornwall waving flags and giving the English a hard time’. Thanks to the BBC for summing up SNP/Plaid and MK polices so succinctly. The possibility of a Cornish Assembly with powers over planning was raised in passing, although Phil Hutty wouldn’t promise any extra money for it, thus rendering it pointless given the level of Lib Dem/Tory cuts.

MK's Andrew Long: seen but not heard, or even named
MK’s Andrew Long: seen but not heard, or even named

On the 12th April there was a piece on Declan Lloyd, Labour’s candidate in South East Cornwall, one of the youngest standing in the election. Declan had not appeared at a hustings, having gone on holiday with his mum instead. As the date of this election has been known since 2010, this seems an odd choice of holiday date. Although Declan might be forgiven as he was of course only 14 in 2010. No matter, as the hustings was shown it was stated that all the candidates for the other parties, including MK, were there. MK’s candidate Andrew Long was briefly seen although not named. The piece then interviewed three of the candidates about the missing Labour lad – but not Martin Corney of the Greens or Andrew Long. Corney was then mentioned by name but it was a case of seen, but not heard, or named, for Long. His name didn’t even appear on the list of candidates shown at the end of the piece!

MK's Dick Cole: less time than cameron
MK’s Dick Cole: less time than Cameron

On the 19th a Cornish Assembly and affordable homes were among the topics. Any fair-minded and objective observer might have thought that here at last was a chance for the distinctive voice of MK to be heard on these issues. And yes, here was Dick Cole of MK, introduced inaccurately as the leader of ‘the Cornish nationalist party MK’, being interviewed. But not live in the studio. Instead he was given a generous 19 seconds to camera somewhere near St Dennis. That’s half the amount of time given to David Cameron, not believed to be standing in Cornwall. Discussion of a Cornish Assembly was left to Scott Mann of the Tories, Simon Rix of the Lib Dems and, peculiarly, or perhaps not given their outright opposition to it, Bob Smith of Ukip. Rix condemned MK’s plans as ‘too expensive and too extreme’, preferring more powers for Cornwall Council with devolution to town and parish councils. There was then some insipid discussion of affordable housing, with an interview piece informing us that the ‘biggest problem’ in Cornwall was the way nimbys prevent thousands of much-needed houses being built. This gem emanated from an estate agent in west Cornwall, one of those who definitelty have much need for more houses. No-one present cared to mention the need to meet developers’ profits first in the present failed market system. And second homes only briefly disturbed the screens, mentioned (by Rix) right at the end of the discussion.

MK's Loveday Jenkin: rendered anonymous by BBC
MK’s Loveday Jenkin: rendered anonymous by BBC

Last Sunday on the 26th we again had the spectacle of presenter Martyn Oates refusing to name an MK candidate on air. Loveday Jenkin was transformed into just an anonymous ‘opposing candidate’, despite being at the receiving end of one of Michael Foster’s alleged anger management problem episodes. The Greens’ Tim Andrewes had been invited onto this show, the first topic of which was defence. He was then duly lectured by the pair of pompous right wing Labour/Tory candidates for his ‘pie in the sky’ temerity, for daring to propose that this fine country of ours could possibly survive without Trident and the ability to blow Russia or Iran to kingdom come, as well as the rest of us. We might have no money, a point made several times by the Tory, but can apparently still afford to spend billions on nuclear bombs. As soon as Andrewes made the point that austerity was a political choice he was unfortunately cut off and the ‘regional’ opt-out abruptly terminated. Phew, narrow escape, almost a glimpse of a real issue there. (And again, did I miss the discussion of global warming or environmental issues?)

The curious case of the vile rant in Camborne & Redruth

At the weekend the Daily Mail came up with a scurrilous story. Frankly, it’s not fit to sully our good Methodist ears here on a respectable site like this. But it can be read here. It was later picked up by the West Briton and their version is online here. Basically, it claimed one of the candidates in Camborne and Redruth resorted to a barrage of foul-mouthed abuse when it was pointed out by another candidate during a debate on the mansion tax that his address in Porth Navas was a £1.5 million waterfront house (with 400 foot of frontage and its own private wood). The candidate had, the Mail alleged, threatened to ‘destroy’ the candidate who brought this up.

Nice view
Nice view

The candidate accused was coincidentally booked to appear on the BBC’s Sunday Politics South West show yesterday. He was questioned about the Mail piece and his alleged comments. The exquisitely dressed Martyn Oates put a direct question to him. ‘Did you say that’. The answer was somewhat circuitous. ‘There is absolutely nothing in that article with which I agree’. A simple ‘yes’ or ‘no’ would surely have sufficed. Oates then dropped the issue.

It appeared that the accused candidate was reading from a prepared statement as he was looking down and wearing his reading glasses, which he then removed once the topic had ended.

Following official BBC electoral fairness guidance, Oates wasn’t able to name the other candidate, allegedly the victim of this supposed tirade or the party they represent. It was just ‘an opposing candidate’. However, I can here reveal it was the MK candidate.

If the accused candidate did not say what the Mail reported then he’s implying the story was a pack of lies (not unusual for the Mail it must be admitted) but also that the MK candidate, who is directly quoted by the Mail, is a liar. This is a very serious accusation. But one that could also be easily cleared up. If it was all nonsense, does the MK candidate agree? Has any journalist actually asked her if the story is true or whether she was misquoted? Or asked the other candidates present at the hustings if they heard any of this appalling language?

While on the subject, it’s interesting to note that the house under question, designed in 1985 by architect Roger Hocking, seems to be listed in the current 2015 Cornish Holiday Cottages Guide, while in 2012 it was being advertised as a dog-friendly self-catering holiday home.

Postal vote fraud fears surface in Camborne and Redruth

Update: Further to the story below more evidence is coming to light that the Labour party in Camborne and Redruth is deliberately flouting Electoral Commission recommendations on how political parties should handle postal votes. The Commission recommended in January 2014 that party workers

Should not take, complete or help to complete postal or proxy vote applications.”

Yet Labour in Camborne and Redruth offers on their website to ‘send a volunteer to bring a form and help fill it in

In 2010 21% of the 42,808 votes cast in the constituency were by post. If this proportion rises markedly this year we’ll need to ask how exactly this happened.

votelabour

Concerns are growing in the Camborne and Redruth constituency over the way the Labour Party locally is handling postal vote applications. When Blair’s Government tried (and failed) to increase turnout by making it ridiculously easy to obtain a postal vote, it opened the door to fraud and vote rigging. A series of high-profile fraud scandals ensued, mainly involving Labour candidates in the big English cities.

So much so that a top judge last year concluded that postal voting enables election-rigging ‘on an industrial scale’ and was ‘unviable’. After peaking in the early 2000s fraud cases have tailed off although the possibility remains of widespread fiddling by political parties interfering in the process. In this context, some are worried that Labour’s practices in Camborne are bringing the possibility of similar manipulation of postal voting to Cornwall.

The Electoral Commission provides clear guidance for political parties. Why is this being ignored?
The Electoral Commission provides clear guidance for political parties. Why is this being ignored?

The Electoral Commission’s Code of Conduct on handling postal votes clearly states
because of the risk of suspicions that the application may be altered and the risk of the application being delayed or lost in transit, the local Election Registration Officer’s address should be the preferred address given for the return of application forms.

In 2014 it went further and recommended specifically that political parties
should not include an intermediary address for the return of postal or proxy vote applications – all applications should be returned directly to Electoral Registration Officers.

But what do we find in Camborne and Redruth? There, accompanying an election communication from its candidate Michael Foster is an application for a postal vote. The party also kindly provides a freepost envelope for its return. Although voters are advised to return the form to Cornwall’s Electoral Registration Officer, whose address is given, the freepost envelope is instead addressed to the Labour Party at Commercial Square, Camborne. They then promise to send it on.

Why such a roundabout route to the Electoral Registration Officer? By blatantly ignoring the recommendations of the Electoral Commission in this way the Labour Party in Camborne might not be breaking electoral law, which is weak in this area. But it is sailing very close to the wind, and hardly acting in the spirit of the Electoral Commission’s recommendations.

Labour candidate in false poll claim storm

Why can’t centr(al)ist party politicians ever be honest with us? Take Michael Foster, Labour’s millionaire candidate for Camborne and Redruth, who’s pouring his cash into winning the seat. As his huge over the top Labour placards suggest, Michael is a firm believer that size matters. He’s also been over-egging things a bit when it comes to reporting recent opinion polls.

An election communication from him states ‘the recent opinion poll by Lord Ashcroft of people in Camborne, Redruth and Hayle puts Labour neck and neck with the Conservatives‘.

Actually, it does nothing of the sort. The poll, taken on 24th-26th March, shows the following.

When asked how people would vote if there was an election tomorrow, voters responded like this

Conservative 39%
Labour 26%
Ukip 14%
Lib Dem 10%

When asked how they would vote when they considered their local candidates they replied as follows

Eustice (Conservative) 37%
Foster (Labour) 24%
Smith (Ukip) 14%
Goldsworthy (Lib Dem) 13%

‘Neck and neck’ in Labourland seems to mean running 13% behind the Tories. By the same logic Labour is ‘neck and neck’ with Ukip and the Lib Dems, as the gap back to those parties is less than that to the Tories. Was this just an unfortunate typo? Or did it result from an inability to understand statistics? Or is it best described as a downright lie deliberately employed to mislead voters?

It’s hardly surprising that around a fifth of voters believe all politicians are corrupt. Foster can’t be the only joker in the pack. There must be other examples of dodgy misuse of polls or voting data across Cornwall. If you come across anything similar why not put a comment here or get in touch.