5 May 2014

"Only a vote for us" - Labour misleads anti-racist voters, just as they did in 2009

We've seen a factually misleading Postal Vote letter from Labour delivered in St Michaels ward in Liverpool this weekend. It may be on every Postal Vote letter Labour have sent out or these might be the only ones.

The key lie / untruth is: “The Greens or Lib Dems won’t stop UKIP or the BNP – only Labour can.”

Under a proportional election system, any claim that “only” a particular party can cause a certain result is demonstrably untrue. We took great pains to make sure any claim we made last time in our Stop Nick Griffin campaign was that we were the best progressive vote to stop the BNP. The result shows were right. If you want the facts on the voting figures, please visit our pre-election "Green Not Griffin" website.

We've had a supportive response from anti-racists, Trade Unionists and other parties on this issue:

Alec McFadden, President of Merseyside Coalition Against Racism and Fascism, who stood for NO2EU in 2009, said:

“Last time it was clear from the result that if the Greens had finished ahead of the BNP, Nick Griffin would never have won a seat in Europe. The way the voting system works means that the Greens are the best anti-racist vote this time. Labour’s attempt to claim they are the “only” vote to stop the BNP and UKIP is appalling politics. I call on all Trade Unionists with doubts about the Labour Party to vote Green and all anti racists to vote Green to stop the racist BNP."

Felicity Dowling, principal speaker for another anti-racist party, Left Unity, said:

“We have backed the North West Green Party in these European Elections after extensive discussion and a democratic vote of our membership at a meeting. We looked at the facts and it is clear that Labour are re-writing history for their own political advantage. To do so on such a crucial issue is a betrayal of the vast majority of principled Labour supporters.”

In January I wrote to Theresa Griffin, Afzal Khan and Julie Ward, the three lead European candidates for Labour in response to this previous leaflet that contained similarly misleading information about the European Elections:

“[In 2009] ...as an anti-racist and anti-fascist I was keen to make sure that at no time did we claim we were the “only” vote that could stop the BNP. That would have been misleading and factually inaccurate."

“Unfortunately that is precisely what Labour did five years ago. I don’t know how many of those leaflets your North West team delivered, to how many households, but a tactic and claim that worked for you at First Past the Post council elections was wrong to use in an election conducted under Proportional Representation. Whether your leaflets had the effect of swinging 5,000 voters to Labour instead of the Greens in that election will never be known.”

“This is an issue I am raising with you, as fellow anti-racists and people I hope to work alongside co-operatively for the next five years. Your party has again stated that “only” a vote for Labour can stop the BNP in leaflets being delivered in Liverpool. This is wrong. It is factually incorrect. Please don’t do it for party political advantage.”

I did get a reply from Julie Ward, the Labour No3 candidate, who in February said:

“...I have pledged to be an ethical politician and am concerned that all anti-fascists work together to ensure Griffin is not re-elected.

“I will ensure we have a conversation about your concerns as soon as possible and also make sure the other members of the Labour team are aware of the issue.”

In 3 out of 5 recent YouGov polls, we have polled ahead of the Liberal Democrats and the BNP in the North and North West regional breakdowns, showing us to be marginally ahead in the race for the final Euro seat in the region. A poll published in the Sunday Times also shows us pushing the Liberal Democrats into 5th place nationally.

We've had a lot of support from people who will be voting Labour in the General Election. Now either Labour are disregarding my previous communication to them or they simply haven't informed their teams around the region not to do this. I'll leave it to the voters in our region to choose factual accuracy rather than quite appalling electioneering.

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