Ed Howker

Dubious Lib Dem tactics, continued...

Dubious Lib Dem tactics, continued...
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Last week, I reported on dubious expenses scheming by two Liberal Democrat MPs – Paul Rowen in Rochdale and John Leech in Manchester Withington – and subsequently wrote a blog fdetailing Paul Rowen’s method of funding his political campaigning at public expense.

Inevitably, having failed to respond to my questions, Rowen stated that the pieces were part of a “Tory smear campaign” – but that’s just not the case. In fact, in the last week, I’ve received a wodge of correspondence from constituents disgusted not just by the candidates’ questionable fundraising methods but also about the campaigns themselves. I thought I might share a few of them.


First up, check out Paul Rowen’s utterly bungling claim in a recent campaign leaflet that Rochdale’s poorest pensioners have been forced to pay for prescriptions. So great is this cost, Rowen claims, pensioners are scared to go to their GP.


This is, of course, completely untrue. Pensioners don’t pay for prescriptions and when one elderly resident, who asked not to be named, pointed this out, she received an immediate apology from Rowen’s office. “I think he was trying to frighten us, “she has told me, “but we’re all older than him so it didn’t bother us. He lives in cloud cuckoo land.“

Next up, examine the curious claims of Liberal Democrat Transport Spokesman John Leech who states, in the leaflet below, that “he helped secure funding for a new NHS dentist”. Once again, this turns out not to be true.


The response to a FOI request submitted in February to Manchester Primary Care Trust states bluntly: “NHS Manchester can confirm that Mr. Mohammed Al-Himdani was awarded a contract from the trust which I can confirm was definitely not influenced or supported by the MP John Leech.”

The letter is signed by Laura Roberts, Chief Executive of NHS Manchester.

The point here is very straightforward. It is not a smear: incompetent or plain devious behaviour is lamentable in any politician – but, right now, it is unforgivable in the Liberal Democrats. Clegg and Cable have said that they seek to “hold politics to a higher standard”, but their party systematically fail to uphold that standard themselves. There’s a word for that: hypocrisy.