Thursday, May 21, 2009

One For The Connoisseur

As long-term readers will know, I'm a close observer of Lib Dem election literature. Not because of its quality so much as my having a morbid fascination with the low-grade cunning they use which no other party stoops anywhere close to - for example, claiming to have supported that which they haven't, the selective editing of newspaper quotes to imply endorsement, the transparent ruses of "many people have been saying..." etc etc.

Nowhere is this exhibited quite so brazenly as in the bar charts which they churn out, alongside the 'can't win here' arrow directed at those who are often in fact their nearest rivals. A particular favourite of mine was the one they had in Glenrothes, which actually used the result of the Dunfermline and West Fife contest! I can only imagine the squeals of outrage there'd have been in Lib Dem quarters if I'd decided to barchart the last Banff and Buchan result to indicate SNP momentum in Gordon...

Fortunately, thanks to Alex Salmond and Brian Adam representing every last square inch of the Gordon Westminster seat at Holyrood, that's not something the SNP would ever have to stoop to, even if we were of a mind to do so. It was therefore with some surprise that I saw the bar chart which the Gordon Lib Dems have opted to use on their literature to promote their Euro campaign:



Take a close look. The bar chart, perhaps understandably, refers to the last Westminster result rather than the more recent Holyrood results which if repeated, would also give the SNP a majority on the Gordon Westminster boundaries. The 'can't win here' tactic aimed at the SNP is therefore clearly rubbish. Nevertheless, even if this chart were an accurate reflection of the current state of play, it would still be completely irrelevant in an election which is being counted on a Scotland-wide basis.

Just take a look at the 'It's so close here' heading, though. Normally, the Lib Dems deploy this tactic alongside a chart which they've manipulated to show them within touching distance of those whom they are hoping to unseat. However, this one's above a chart which shows the Lib Dems outpolling their nearest chosen rivals by over 2:1!

While at one level it's interesting to see that they're trying to deny the fact that the SNP has improved its position in this part of Aberdeenshire considerably since 2005, there's a more subtle message in there. When they say 'it's so close here', what I suspect they really mean is that with Scotland seeing her number of MEPs reduced from 7 to 6, with their precarious position in the national polls it's touch and go as to whether the Lib Dems will manage to get an MEP elected from Scotland at all.

Whatever else you might be able to say about Lib Dem election literature, it is nearly always hallmarked by a clear message, whether it stands up to scrutiny or not. This one, on the other hand, tries to claim that those who are winning can't win, while pointing to a closeness which on their own terms of reference, simply doesn't exist.

Fail.

9 comments:

denver the last dinosaur said...

You might also note that they have put a "1" in the box when they tell voters to give them their vote.

This gives the misleading impression that it is an STV election, when in reality it is simply the d'Hondt system and voters should use an "X".

If people vote for them and go on to express further preferences, there may be a question over whether those ballots will be accepted...

Richard Thomson said...

Yep, saw that too. Bit of a Horlicks for them all round, really.

BellgroveBelle said...

That's an utter gem. Not surprisingly, the Glasgow North East is sans-graph, but does have a cross in the box.

subrosa said...

I haven't received one yet but I've just been listening to Annabel Goldie on BBC Scotland at her Q & A session. She's so positive Scotland will be overtaken by tory MPs at the next election.

All these leaflets and interviews should come with a health warning.

Fitaloon said...

My favourite recent little lib dem fib was in the recent by election when Rosemary Bruce described herself as an Office Manager. No mention of who she worked for. Stand up Mr Bruce.

Richard Havers said...

politicians? low grade cunning? Surely not!

You'll never believe my word verification.

I ming stp

surely it was meant to be snp...

GrassyKnollington said...

I got the measure of the LibDems when I observed how they and Simon Hughes treated Peter Tatchell in Bermondsey. Disgraceful.

In latter years watching Nicol Stephen's desperate attempts to smear Salmond at Holyrood over the Trump application just reinforced my view that they could never be trusted.

The benign old college teacher/ tweed jacket/ Clarks sandals image is dangerously misleading. I think that they're the most ruthless of all the political parties and that's saying something!

Prof John Curtsey said...

The FibDem's bar charts have now reached the ivory towers of academia, such are their statistically spellbinding ways!

http://peterblack.blogspot.com/2009/05/lib-dem-barcharts-make-academia.html

Bucket of Tongues said...

Political parties using information selectively...whoda thunk it? I mean fair dos for highlighting it, but all's fair in love and politics.