Political Promise

Is negative the way to win?

In David Brownsey-Joyce on November 2, 2010 at 9:56 am


A by-election in Kentish Town brought the best and worst campaign material to David Brownsey-Joyce’s attention.

 Last week there was a by-election in my area which signalled the end of some rather ugly fights between campaigning parties pushing their candidate forward to become a councillor for Camden Council.

Call me an idealist but I like to vote for whom I think is the best person for the job, ignoring the party they are attached to. So when there are local elections going on in my area I really get interested to see what the messages are from the candidates, what I found most recently was that none of the candidates had much to really say, all they were interested in was complaining.

Complaining about each other, complaining about other parties, complaining about how the country is going; moan, moan, moan, moan, moan… how boring. I know that moaning is a national pastime in this country, heck I’m a master of it, but how about talking about what you plan to do rather than what the other guy/party did?

The campaign turned really ugly last week when the single worst case of campaign material I have ever seen in my young life popped through my letterbox.

It was a simple leaflet, simply evil. First thing I noticed and I turned it over when I couldn’t find it was there was no party logo on it. Ok, that’s fine; I’m reading the headlining blue text that outlines how only the Conservative and Labour candidates actually live within the ward’s boundary’s, thinking it’s a Conservative pamphlet.

The problem was, it wasn’t, and it was a Labour pamphlet. An attack-ad purely targeted at the Liberal Democrat’s candidate, who whilst not living in the ward, lived a short distance away and said he lived closer to Brent than Kentish Town. London Borough of Brent is a neighbouring borough of Camden’s which is a little to the north-west and literally a short bus journey away. Is Labour saying only those candidates that can afford to live in one of the most expensive areas in North London should be candidates for public office? That is certainly a strange thing for a Labour group to say.

If that wasn’t bad enough, there was a map, a map! All the candidates were listed, along with their addresses and a map was provided to every member of the community within the election ward. Whilst this is all public information, obtained via Camden Council’s website, surely it is never a good idea to publish someone else’s address.

And how do I know it was a Labour pamphlet? Well all political material has to publish where it was printed and on who’s behalf. On the bottom corner on the rear of the pamphlet was Labour’s finger prints all over it.

The strategy was two-fold, firstly to say that the Liberal Democrat, Labour’s serious contender in the by-election, and to a lesser extent the Green candidate, were out of touch with the people that they would be representing; secondly it was to get people dreading politics, it was designed to make everyone seem little and petty, that only the diehards would vote.

Did it work? here are the results of the Kentish Town by-election held on 28 October 2010.



  • Labour – 1,411 votes
  • Liberal Democrats – 715 votes
  • Green – 349 votes
  • Conservative – 186 votes

Yes it did work and all it shows is that negative campaigning works in this country, we are all screwed if continue to allow local parties to work this way, because all we will get is professional politicians at a local level, we have enough professional politicians at a national level, I want the best people who can serve a community. I want people who don’t trust others to do the job, that roll up their sleeves and are willing to work for everyone, not just the ones who agree with them.

Maybe I’m just naive but I want the best person for the job, not just the one who looks the best of a bad bunch.

Here is the scandalous Labour leaflet: Frontpage and Backpage


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