Steerpike

The Lib Dems’ campaigning loophole

The Lib Dems' campaigning loophole
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Following the sad news on Friday of the Duke of Edinburgh's death, Liberal Democrat leader Ed Davey tweeted out his condolences writing that 'As a mark of respect to the Duke of Edinburgh, the Queen and the Royal Family, the Liberal Democrats are suspending the national election campaign today.'

A civil gesture of commemoration, one might think. But while the party's leading MPs like Layla Moran and Alistair Carmichael are following the example of ministers in respecting a media blackout until after the funeral, no such restraints are on local activists out campaigning across the country throughout this weekend.

Mr S was sent a number of leaflets on Saturday which showed members out in Tower Hamlets putting party election materials through letter boxes, heralding the virtues of their London mayoral candidate Luisa Porritt. In Peterborough that same day campaigners attracted the ire of local MP Paul Bristow after being snapped going out campaigning as normal.

After Steerpike made enquiries with party HQ, a spokesman said: 'All National Liberal Democrat campaigning in England, Scotland and Wales has been suspended since Friday and that will continue through the weekend and until an appropriate time on Monday. Local teams in local communities are well-placed to decide what is the most appropriate response in their area.'

Such 'enthusiastic' leafleting comes months after the party were criticised for doing the same thing during the strict January lockdown. Mr S will leave readers to judge whether giving activists a free pass can truly be said to be 'suspending the national campaign' in any meaningful sense.

Written bySteerpike

Steerpike is The Spectator's gossip columnist, serving up the latest tittle tattle from Westminster and beyond. Email tips to steerpike@spectator.co.uk.

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