Elevating stupidity into an art form ...

The anti nuclear campaign sent me a letter today. They say that their aim is to try to persuade government ministers not to support new nuclear build.

To this end they were asking me, one of the most outspoken supporters of nuclear power in the Conservative party, to ask the present MP for Copeland, who is

a) one of the most outspoken supporters of nuclear power in the Labour party, and
b) recently compared the present Prime Mininster to a nazi collaborator

to sign an anti nuclear early day motion. One of the main arguments in the letter they sent me is that nuclear power supposedly does not create jobs.

Just in case anyone reading this does not already know, about 25% of the working population in both Copeland Borough on which I am a councillor, and Copeland Constituency, which Jamie Reed represents, are directly employed by the civil nuclear industry. Including both those directly employed in the industry and those whose jobs are dependent on it, about 17,000 local jobs depend on the nuclear industy. And Bransty ward, which I represent, has one of the higher concentrations of nuclear employees in Copeland.

Now before I start on the other factual inaccuracies with which their argument is riddled, let's just consider just how many extreme improbabilities there are in the idea that they might get anywhere by sending me this request.

1) Theye're hoping that Conservative and Lib/Dem ministers will listen to an opposition MP who has gone out of his way over the past two years to insult those ministers when they were in opposition, including a very offensive insult against the present Prime Minister which the speaker required him to withdraw.

2) They're hoping that the MP concerned can be persuaded to put arguments supporting the anti-nuclear case, despite crystal clear election promises in the opposite direction, by a letter from his main opponent at the last two elections.

3) They're hoping to persuade me to put those arguments supporting the anti-nuclear case, despite my crystal clear election promises to support the pro-nuclear view.

4) They're trying to persuade both Jamie Reed and myself to rip up the promises on which we were elected by arguing that nuclear power does not create jobs when Jamie Reed has a higher proportion of nuclear industry employees in his constituency than any other MP and I am probably one of the twenty councillors in the entire country with the highest proportion of nuclear employees in their ward.

Either their targetting isn't very good, or they must be desperate!


alistair said…
I got the same letter what a load of rubbish and such a waste of money.
Anonymous said…
Chris, you and your Tory party 'targeted' Labour councillors with their election literature in the deluded hope that they would vote for you.
Chris Whiteside said…
We did not target Labour councillors. We did send my election address to every household in Copeland on the electoral register.

Of course that meant that some Labour councillors received it, just as every Conserative councillor in Copeland (including me) recieved election literature from Jamie Reed (and Frank Hollowell, and Clive Jefferson, etc.)

Incidentally, I can beat that - my household also took a phone call from Labour HQ which asked for me by name and how I would be voting.

But what the anti-nuclear guys did in this case is not comparable with a 100% mailshot from an election campaign to the whole constituency. They sent a letter addressed to councillors as councillors.

In Copeland that DOES amount to targetting your opponents.
Anonymous said…
Interesting, "We did send my election address to every household in Copeland on the electoral register."
How did the Conserative Party get a copy of the complete electoral register? People whose names are not published on the list also received your address. Would you care to explain? I wouldn't like to think Data Protection laws are being abused, again.
Chris Whiteside said…
You're kidding, right?

By law, registered political parties are entitled to demand that the returning officer supplies them with a copy of the electoral register. So are independent candidates in an election.

As was his legal duty, Martin Jepson provided all six candidates in Copeland with a copy of the full register, including those electors whose names are not published on the publicly available list.

Anyone who knows the first thing about UK election campaigns knows that all serious candidates do make use of the register to make sure they reach as high a proportion of voters as possible. Candidates also have the right to one free delivery by the Royal Mail to every elector.

My campaign used our free delivery to send my first election address to the first elector in every household on the register, and a second address to the second elector in households with two or more electors. Every candidate for a major party in a seat they had a significant chance of winning will have done the same or something very similar.

This is entirely consistent with UK data protection and electoral law. Parliament is composed of elected MPs, virtually every one of whom will have been elected by a campaign in which they sent out election addresses in this way.

Do you really imagine that they would draft data protection laws in a way which criminalised their own election campaigns?
Anonymous said…
I'm not a political Nerd like you, but if it is correct what you say then it smacks of one Law for Politicians, and another for the Public.

The Law is not consistent it has been rigged by Politicians purely for the benefit of you Politicians.
Stephen said…
What, democratically elected politicians rig elections to make them more democratic by allowing the widest range of materials to reach as many electors as possible?

Might want to get MI5 on the 'phone to deal with that conspiracy.
Anonymous said…
If politicians can use the electoral register to peddle their propaganda indiscriminately why can't other sections of the community, religious groups, charities and businesses do the same? Mr Whiteside certainly didn’t need access to the full electoral register to enable him to distribute his propaganda but he used it because the legislation has been written so that he and only politicians can. There is no consistency in the legislation.
Chris Whiteside said…
I don't accept that the legislation is inconsistent.

The reason that registered political parties and other bona fide candidates are allowed access to the full register is that they want it for reasons which are fully consistent with the purposes for which the electoral register exists - encouraging legitimate voters to use their vote, making it easier to do so, and detecting electoral fraud (impossible to do unless you know who is eligible to vote).

With no disrespect to people who make their living selling things, this would not apply to, say, a double glazing or insurance salesman.
Anonymous said…
Were you really "encouraging legitimate voters to use their vote" - I don't recall you suggesting that I vote for the other parties it was simply propaganda requesting I vote for you. How much "detecting electoral fraud" have you done in Copeland? I'm sure the public are in a better postion to do this than you.

Chris you politicians are worse than a "double glazing or insurance salesman", at least with them you know how much it is going to cost you.
Chris Whiteside said…
Several times during the election campaign I referred to the importance of the election, encouraged people to vote, offered to arrange lifts, or gave out information about postal votes.

Obviously I also encouraged them to vote for me but the practical effect when politicians do things like this is to encourage everyone to vote and it tends to increase turnout on both sides, as actually happened in Copeland this year.

I'm pleased to say that we saw no sign of electoral fraud in Copeland in 2010. But in former times throughout the UK, in Northern Ireland within living memory, and in one or two major cities very recently, there have been serious problems of such fraud. Publishing the electoral register was a major element of stamping this out.

For the purpose of preventing fraud, it would be even more effective if the full electoral register was still available to everyone. Unfortunately there are legitimate security reasons why this is no longer possible.

But where people have been caught in electoral fraud, the fact that other parties running what we call a GOTV (get out the vote) operation to maximise their own support may also incidentally become aware of suspect behaviour, and tip off the police or the electoral authorities, has often been a factor in detecting such fraud.

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