Opinion by Michael Fabricant MP.
CANDIDATE AND POLICY UNTRUTHS
You would have thought Labour would have learned by past experience. But they have not.
Chloe Smith with Edward Timpson who won 14 months earlier.
Fourteen months ago, I was part of the Conservative By Election Team that won the safe Labour seat of Crewe & Nantwich. It had been Labour since the Second World War, but the by-election had been caused by the death of veteran MP, Gwyneth Dunwoody. Labour decided to fight a rough ? and some would say ?dirty? ? campaign. The Conservative candidate, now the MP, was Edward Timpson whose father, John Timpson, is chairman of the chain of shoe repairers and key cutters of the same name. John and his wife Alex also foster children and have cared for over 400 over several decades. A decent family.
But Labour went on the attack. They accused Edward Timpson of being ?a toff?. They said he was trying to deceive the people of Crewe & Nantwich. They followed him around with actors dressed in top hat, tails, and a monocle. They said ?people like us should not elect a lying Tory?.
But the electorate of Crewe & Nantwich would have nothing of it. On the 22nd May 2008, a Labour majority of over 7,000 was turned into a Conservative majority of over eight thousand.
Fast forward 14 months later and I have been working with the same team in Norwich. No death this time: just Gordon Brown?s crass decision to sack a good constituency MP for an expenses misdemeanour (and who occasionally rebelled when he thought it morally right to do so) while keeping Cabinet Members who had committed far worse.
And Labour campaigned almost the same way again. But instead of lying about the candidate, they decided to lie about Conservative policy. They claimed ?a Tory Government will stop over 60 free bus travel?. It will not. They claimed ?The Tories will abolish free TV licences for the elderly?. We will not!
And so it went on. While Conservative MPs travelled up from London to campaign, hardly a Labour back-bencher was seen – unlike in Crewe & Nantwich. Either they had lost the will to fight or the Whips forbade them to enter the battleground lest they witness for themselves what Labour meltdown looks like on council house estates and the Labour heartland. ?Vote Labour? You?ve got to be kidding, mate.? And unlike the Crewe election, it was not held in the Parliamentary term time. Labour chose polling day in Norwich to be in the summer recess so MPs could not ferment unrest back in Westminster.