'Secret election pact to stitch up Boris' roars the front page of today's Mail on Sunday. Ahead of Thursday's local elections, Oliver Dowden, the Conservative party's chairman, has written an angry letter to Sir Keir Starmer. He claims Labour is standing down candidates ‘in swathes of the country’ where Lib Dem support is strong to avoid splitting the anti-Tory vote. His fellow knight, Sir Ed Davey, is accused of doing the same where Labour is dominant elsewhere. Playing politics in an election campaign? It'll never catch on.
It marks a change of course from, er, Thursday when Labour were found to have spent a small fortune on online adverts attacking the Lib Dems. Messages on Facebook and Instagram have been running for the past fortnight, accusing Davey's party of wanting to 'legalise drugs and soften punishments' and 'get rid of Britain's nuclear weapons.' Labour's attack partly stems from Sir Keir's determination to distance himself from his predecessor Jeremy Corbyn, who has previously voiced support for both disarmament and decriminalising cannabis possession.
The adverts led some left-wing commentators online to suggest that the Lib Dems is a more welcoming home for Corbyn's supporters than the Labour party. Sadly, for Sir Ed, much like the Corbynites had their problems with antisemitism, the Lib Dems have theirs too. For in Tower Hamlets – where disgraced ex-mayor Lutfur Rahman looks set to return to office on Thursday – another familiar face has re-emerged in the local Liberal Democrat party.
Back in 2019 local candidate Abjol Miah was suspended during a council by-election in Tower Hamlets for sharing antisemitic material, including a video from former KKK leader David Duke. At the time the Lib Dems said his party membership had been 'revoked, pending an investigation.' Now though, he's back and campaigning for Rahman's rival Rabina Khan to be Mayor of Tower Hamlets.
The Lib Dems launched their campaign on 24 March in Shadwell where Sir Ed Davey stood proudly next to Miah, who was subsequently interviewed by Channel S wearing a yellow rosette. Miah previously belonged to George Galloway’s 'Respect' party, campaigned for Rahman's 'Tower Hamlets First' party in the 2014 local elections and then moved onto Labour during the 2016 London Mayoral election before switching to the Lib Dems.
Talk about moving tanks onto Labour's lawn...