Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Tuesday, 27 October 2009

Tory Bear in hyperbole shocker

Everyone's favourite young Conservative blue coloured fluffy bear has a shock headline this morning: "Lib Dem PPC in Bribery Scandal".

It turns out that the "scandal" is that Lib Dem York Outer parliamentary candidate Madeleine Kirk has put out a statement where she talked about the record number of people they had signed up to the party and the "bribery" portion is that local students were able to join the party for free rather than for £5 (an already heavily subsidised rate of the sort that all parties do).

So it's not really a scandal and it's not really bribery. It's just the sort of thing that political parties do to attract members.

There are other ways of looking at this story. How about: "Lib Dems help increase student involvement in politics". Or: "Young people given civic encouragement by political party". I would have thought that Tory Bear, being a young person involved in politics himself would be pleased to see all the stops being pulled out to try and increase student involvement.

TB himself in the comments to the post (in response to a comment I left) points out that it's the "deception and lies" that he objects to in Kirk's press release. It looks more to me like the sort of thing you get from all parties including the Tories highlighting what is perceived as good news within the party. Is he honestly saying that every single Tory press release highlights everything that pertains to the story? Come off it.

As it happens, if I had been putting out that press release, I would have been singing from the rooftops about how we had offered free membership for students. I don't think it's a bad thing at all, I think it reflects very well on us as a party.

TB also says in his comment to me that there is a big difference between "giving away flashy tat" and actually paying for people's membership. Really? It's all just part of the same continuum as far as I am concerned. In these days of falling party membership the parties have to adapt to try and engage people, especially the young. This is one way of doing that.


Harry Cole said...


Stephen Glenn said...

Of course if the Conservatives spent less on Champagne and more on encouraging the next generation of young people into politics we'd have something to worry about. How many Universities now have the Lib Dems as the largest political society? How many of them are target seats?

Double smirk to the above commenter.

James Graham (Quaequam Blog!) said...

Presumably, on this basis, the open primary in Totnes is the biggest bribery scandal in the history of politics?

Tory Outcast said...

@Stephen Glenn - At the risk of encouraging more smirking the Tories are by far the biggest of the three parties on the York Campus. The Lib Dems are something of an irrelevance especially compared to the other two parties.

On the Bribery issue Ms Kirk seems to change her mind several times on whether or not she was a contributor but the general consensus seems to be that she was. Whether you think this is wrong or not is a matter of opinion. I just think it was a waste of money.

Mark Thompson said...

TO - Why is it a waste of money?

Tory Outcast said...

@Mark - Because it doesn't actually seem to have done anything to increase the numbers who go to their events and I presume they will find the same is true when they go campaigning.

If someone is not bothered enough to pay a few quid they are really unlikely to turn out on a wet and windy Yorkshire morning to campaign.

Is Madeline Kirk's (or people on her campaign team's) money so she can do what she wants with it but I fail to see how she gains anything from this.

Mark Thompson said...

Well I don't know the ins and outs of the exact numbers in this case but I would suggest that in general in these sort of cases, some of the members who joined, perhaps because it was easy to do and free, may decide to go along to one or two of the social events. They may end up chatting to like-minded people (I am guessing they are of a liberal persuasion or they wouldn't have joined), like what they hear and through that get more involved.

It might only be a few of those extra who joined but I would suggest a subsidy of a few quid for the chance to get some more members is a worthwhile investment.

Tory Outcast said...

Well perhaps but all the societies offer a "sign up to the mailing list option" and a "membership option".

For the Tories at least the membership option comes with national party membership a few extra bits of tat and cheaper entrance to any ticketed events.

However if you are not a member this is no barrier to turning up to events.

All the Lib Dems have done is combine the two options. In this respect they actually still did much worse than Tories and Labour.

Mark Thompson said...

I couldn't care less whether the Lib Dems did better than Labour or the Tories in terms of recruitment in York. The important thing is we almost certainly did better than we would have done and I see that as a good thing.

i don't understand why these things always seem to descend into partisan willy waving contests. The net result is more young people are likely to be engaged with politics which is a great outcome, whoever "wins".

Alix said...

Back to the point, however, I agree that the l'il bear cries wolf a bit too much. He needs to take a few more lessons from Guido - who remembers the things Guido predicts but gets wrong? No-one, because he does it so well, and doesn't go out on a limb in the hoping of scoring a small point in the interim. He goes for the big kill. TB sells his stuff as being momentous all the time. When he actually does get hold of something big, he'll have dissipated his credibility.

Tory Outcast said...

OK fair call that wasn't relevant. Willys away.

Was trying to pointing out that it hasn't actually increased involvement as roughly the same number of people signed up for the mailing list (and in this case membership as well) as did last year and the same number of people go to their events as did last year hence my argument that it was a waste of money.