Friday, September 01, 2006

Derby Defections: nailing the lie

A week ago tonight, our TV news was full of reports of a mass defection from the Labour Party to the LibDems in Margaret Beckett's Derby South constituency.

The story flavoured the weekend political programmes and was raised time and again by the hacks as evidence that rank and file members were abandoning the Labour Party in droves due to the Government's policy over the war in Lebanon.

At the time, I suggested that the story was not all it was cracked up to be by Derby LibDems who read out a list of names at a press conference last Friday afternoon.

From an early stage, it was clear to insiders that this was a media stunt that had nothing to do with Lebanon and everything to do with the selection of Labour Party candidates for Derby City council seats next May.

But the media weren't about to let the facts spoil a good story and lapped up pictures of Ming Campbell welcoming his new flock and running with the Lebanon angle.

It's taken a few days for the Labour Party to thoroughly comb the list of so-called defectors, but we now have a much clearer idea of the truth of the LibDem stunt.

Of the 41 names, six are genuine defectors: eight if you include the two former members who had allowed their membership to "lapse".

Two of the small band of actual defectors failed to be shortlisted as Labour Party candidates by members in Arboretum and Normanton in the days before the "mass defection" (needless to say not mentioned as part of the story).

But here's the dynamite which blows the story out of the water:

An astonishing 27 people on the list of so-called defectors were not Labour Party members, but had applied to join in the run-up to the selections for city council seats.

The Labour Party has a "freeze date" for membership well before selections, to stop potential candidates signing up bogus members immediately before the selection meetings to unfairly sway the vote.

But in the run-up to the January 1st "freeze date" in Derby, the Labour Party noticed an unusually large number of membership applications.

The Party suspected possible foul play and triggered immediate tougher than usual verification measures in the affected areas.

Every membership application had to be personally ratified to ensure that the applicant was a real person, living in the address stated, wished to be a member of the Party and had paid the membership fee themselves.

Since then, the Labour Party has been unable to verify 27 names - the very same 27 names which the LibDems now claim to have signed up.

This comes as no surprise.

It vindicates the action taken by the Labour Party.

The bottom line is there was no mass defection.

This story was a lie.


Nick Colbourne said...

Good work Phil, the CLP Chair said it was a lie last week, but it's nice to read you proving LibDems telling porkies here.

fairdealphil said...

thanks Nick. it's unlikely that the broadcast media will admit they were duped, but at least bloggers4labour helps get the truth out.

Anonymous said...

Not shocked at all by this news. Typical Lib Dems misleading the voters.

great work Nick.

labourloyal said...

But will the party actually turn the big guns on the Liberals for this deceit and get the issue of their dishonesty up the news agenda?

To date they have been poor and believed a strategy of ignoring them would work. As by-elections have shown there is a detatchment with what the voters know about political parties based on what they read in simple headlines and in leaflets.

If we don't make this a headline story and keep on making headline stories about how the dishonest Liberals cannot be trusted they will still get away with lying to the electorate.

Anonymous said...

If these defectors were not real labour members why did the labour party write to them asking them to reconsider and thanking them for their work ?

Mike said...

The 41 ex-Derby Labour Party members who defected to the Liberal Democrats had been Labour members. They had Labour membership numbers they had Labour membership cards. The General Secretary of the Labour Party has now even written to them and invited them to rejoin Labour.

He would hardly have done that if they hadn't been Labour party members.

Face reality Labour made itself unpopular over Iraq and the Lebanon. And locally in Derby Labour has made itself unpopular by going into an alliance with the Tories, and cutting a number of local services, sports centres home care services for the elderly and disabled etc.

That is why people are leaving Derby Labour Party in droves. Instead of pretending that people who were Labour Party members were never Labour Party members. It would be better to consider why so many people want to leave Derby Labour Party.