Election tactics at a new low, say Tories

We all know that labour are possibly the worst government ever for their lies and spin, but will they manage to fool the country or will the coutnry see through the smoke and mirrors?

Liam Fox, the co-chairman of the Tory party, accused Tony Blair yesterday of undermining democracy by putting lies and dirty tricks at the centre of his election campaign.

He hit out after Labour followed up its attack on Howard Flight with the launch of an election poster accusing the Tories of wanting to charge patients for health service operations.

The Tories say the NHS poster, and a similar one about their public spending plans unveiled just over a week ago, grotesquely misrepresent their policies.

They also believe they have discovered the identity of the Labour "mole" who recorded Mr Flight suggesting at a meeting of Thatcherite activists that Michael Howard's spending cuts would be much tougher than has been publicly acknowledged.

Dr Fox told The Telegraph: "It is clear that Labour are willing to tell straightforward lies if they think it will help keep them in office.

"They are damaging the whole political culture of this country. They are corrupting and corruptible. We will continue to focus on the issues that matter while Labour want to talk about anything but their record."

Allegations of dirty campaigning are common at election time but some Tories believe that the events of the past few days have shown Labour acting with an unprecedented degree of unscrupulousness and malice.

John Reid, the Health Secretary, unveiled a poster at the weekend that said: "Warning - the Tories will bring in charges for hospital operations."

The Tories say they do not propose to bring in any charges for NHS operations. Many patients already pay for private treatment and Tory policy is to allow them to recoup half the cost from the taxpayer to compensate for the fact that they are freeing health service resources.

After the Budget Mr Blair unveiled a poster saying: "The Tories will cut £35 billion from public services." The Tories objected strongly because their policy is not to cut spending but to increase it at a slower rate than Labour so that after six years they would be spending £35 billion less.

The Tories disclosed that they had had their campaign headquarters swept for bugs because they are worried about their opponents planting a listening device.

An official said that MPs were being urged to look out for a Labour dirty tricks operation of the kind that led to Mr Flight losing the Tory whip and not being able to stand again as MP for Arundel and South Downs.

Mr Flight was secretly recorded during a meeting of Conservative Way Forward and his remarks were passed to a pro-Labour paper. The same thing has happened to several other Tories addressing meetings of activists in recent months.

The Conservative Way Forward meeting was open to the public and Tories believe that it was taped by a former Labour student activist from a London college who was recognised by people at the meeting. The suspect had attended as a member of the public and was not posing as a member of CWF.

Some Tories believe that there is nothing wrong with secretly recording what a politician says at a public meeting. Others believe that, if surveillance is being carried out, it should not be done in an underhand way.

"If we do this, we are quite open about it," a senior Tory said. "We send along a press officer. What Labour are doing is creating a climate of fear, with people afraid to say anything in case they are misrepresented."

Labour was accused of dirty tricks when it circulated an idea for a poster showing Mr Howard, who is Jewish, in a pose reminiscent of one of the film depictions of Fagin, the villain in Oliver Twist. Labour withdrew the image, while insisting that there was no intention of anti-Semitism.

Asked to respond to Dr Fox's charges, Alan Milburn, Labour's election co-ordinator, issued a statement defending the poster campaign.

"When we said the Tories would cut £35 billion from public spending, they said it was a Labour lie," he said. "Now it turns out, as Howard Flight has confirmed, that the Tories are planning to go even further than that."

Labour officials refused to discuss the party's involvement in the taping of Mr Flight's remarks, saying they did not want to become distracted by "process".

Mr Flight has contacted his lawyers about the possibility of challenging Mr Howard's decision not to let him stand again as an official Conservative candidate. He also renewed his demand for his local association to be allowed to decide his fate.

"I was unanimously approved as a candidate five weeks ago," he said. "I am seeking to address a general meeting of the local party and there should then be a vote as to whether it wants to keep me as the candidate."

Mr Howard's aides said there was no chance of Mr Flight standing for the party again. A spokesman said: "What people do and say in the first 48 hours does not necessarily reflect what they always decide after mature reflection."

I thought accusing the other side of putting dirty tricks and smears at the centre of their campaign was the oldest dirty trick in the book! Surprised you fell for this.

I mentioned on another post last week that I admired Jim Callaghan for admitting that politicians often lie because the public never want to hear the truth...........

"Dr Fox told The Telegraph: "It is clear that Labour are willing to tell straightforward lies if they think it will help keep them in office."

Interviewed over this week-end on Radio 4 with regard to the sacking of Howard Flight the 'Chingford Strangler' himself Norman Tebbit said almost the same thing word-for-word as Gentleman Jim, admitting he had often lied himself, specifically referring to the lies he had told at the time of privatising British Telecom. He indicated that it was political madness for anyone seriously looking to get into power to be completely honest with the electorate. Jim and Norman are of course right! Some political concensus there then!
Granted but does that lessen the endemic use of lies and dis-information spread by the labour party?

Just makes me think

"what do they have to hide if they have to concentrate on the tories policies?"
Gents there is no need to lie, as an old warrior taught me years ago, if something embarsesses you to say, then don't lie, just don't tell the truth.
Before flaming me for that statement Think about it.
For about the last 25 years its the policy I apply.
PS. The guy who taught me that, used to claim he was the first GI to have been shot with a AK 47, back in Nam and before the yank Marines landed at Da Nang.

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