Monday, June 5, 2017

Lib Dem blogger Mike Smithson hits new low as he poses in letter as 'impartial expert' to interfere in the East Dunbartonshire election

As long-term readers of this blog know, nothing ever surprises me about the antics of the Bedfordshire-based Liberal Democrat blogger Mike Smithson, but this latest incident takes the biscuit.  Clearly with his full blessing, the Lib Dems have sent out a letter from Smithson, featuring his signature and photo, to voters in the East Dunbartonshire constituency.  The letter is presented as if it's just a piece of helpful information from an impartial expert, rather than the party political propaganda that it actually is.  (Indeed, recipients of the letter would be forgiven for genuinely believing that it comes from Smithson's Political Betting blog, aka Stormfront Lite, rather than from the Lib Dems.)


(Click image to enlarge.)

Voters are informed that, for Smithson, politics is a "serious business", and that making the right calls based on hard data is how he makes his living. They are then told that his "work" on the East Dunbartonshire data leads him to conclude that the constituency is going to be a straight fight between the SNP and the Lib Dems, that the Conservatives will be far behind, and that if Tory and Labour voters want to stop the SNP they should vote Lib Dem.  He's not in any way trying to actually influence people's votes (perish the thought!) but he just thinks the "information" will be useful to them as they make their own choices.

All of this raises a number of important questions -

1) Wouldn't a voter receiving this letter be interested to know that Smithson, whatever his claimed expertise, is not in any sense impartial but rather a long-standing member of the Liberal Democrat party, a former Liberal Democrat county councillor, and a former Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate?

2) Why has a self-styled expert in electoral data chosen to discount the results of the local elections only a few weeks ago, when the Conservatives outpolled the Liberal Democrats in East Dunbartonshire to finish second in the popular vote behind the SNP?  How can any serious analyst look at that result and claim virtual certainty that the Conservatives are out of the running in the constituency?

3) Would potential Scottish Liberal Democrat voters not be interested to know that this man, who is using deceptive means to influence their voting choice, loathed Charles Kennedy and made several cruel and highly personal comments about one of Scotland's most liked and respected political leaders?

4) Wouldn't voters be interested to know about the track record of this 'expert' and his previous predictions in individual constituencies?  Wouldn't they be somewhat bemused if, for example, they were to learn that Smithson branded Alex Salmond as yesterday's man in the run-up to the 2015 general election, and claimed the former First Minister didn't have a hope in hell of defeating the mighty Lib Dems in the Gordon constituency?  (Salmond actually defeated the Lib Dems by a whopping margin of 8687 votes.)

5) Why is Smithson interfering in a Scottish election, and specifically offering 'advice' with the purported aim of preventing a pro-independence candidate from being elected, when he has publicly claimed in the past to be a supporter of Scottish independence?

6) Doesn't the deliberate deception that this letter represents constitute a breach of electoral regulations?

7) If Smithson takes politics so "seriously", why has he for the last few years employed a Deputy Editor on his blog who is a known fantasist (he invented two dreadful family tragedies to avoid settling a bet for several months), and who routinely uses deeply embarrassing and puerile language in his articles for the site?  Witness this effort on Saturday : "Winning general elections, it is said, are a lot like orgies, you’re never quite sure who to thank afterwards."

8) What hope has Smithson got of passing off the analysis on his own site as non-partisan and trustworthy in future, now that he's used that site's name and reputation (such as it is) to lend credibility to a deliberate deception on behalf of his own political party? 

41 comments:

  1. PB is the number one betting source of Daily Mail stupidity, westminster bubble thinking and out and out Enoch Powell adulation and racism.

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    1. The undecideds and the bottlers will put it in the back of the net for 'remain'. I'm sure Cameron also has a few tricks up his sleeve to deploy in the dying days of the campaign.





      .

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    2. The far-right infantilism of Effie Deans and Batshit JillJune 5, 2017 at 1:03 AM

      Old Man of the Sea‏ @ScaryChildren

      Replying to @WingsScotland

      History woman definitely has a whiff of the 3rd Reich about her as well

      In Moz we trust‏ @EverettDominic

      Replying to @WingsScotland

      Her (Effie Deans) every word is lapped up by the racist and sectarian bigots that she knows follow her. Well aware of her audience.

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    3. https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/contact-us

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  2. Dont call them the Fib Dooms for nothing! I see the Brit Nat trolls have crawled out from under their rocks.

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  3. "Strongly likely"

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  4. I live in East Dunbartonshire and got this 'junk mail' through my door last night. The fact that he's saying he's impartial is blatant lies! I've had about 4 personally addressed letters from Jo Swinson as well, so I knew straight away that this was Lib Dem material. It actilu says in the tiny print at the bottom that it was printed by the Lib Dems!

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    1. Saying so here would also help.

      https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/contact-us

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  5. It's a wm election and all the opposition want to do is stop the Snp.The Snp cannot form the government so their logic is illogical. We already have a mandate from Holywood for indi ref 2. If I was a swithering voter I would be wondering why the other parties in Scotland don't just become one party. They certainly have no policies and dont care about the electorate.

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  6. As an East Dunbartonshire resident I appear to be a target for Lib Dem adverts. I've never shown any lib dem preferences in Google searches so it seems like my location has been given up by social media or Google

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  7. Is he "the top polling expert?"

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  8. Why should we worry that Lib Dems are being encouraged to fight the Tories for second place? All to the good. In Charles Kennedy's old constituency I have had two amusingly distorted bar charts, one from the Tories and one from the LibDems. As a retired maths teacher I find these a more egregious form of lie than Smithson's effort, and since I'm doing a supply lesson today I will take them in and ask the class to dissect them.

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  9. Could we - I mean Scotland Goes Pop - get out a counter leaflet?

    I would be willing to pay, tho' unfortunately not a lot.

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  10. This is skirting close to the laws on treating and bribery both of which are against electoral law.

    https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/149729/List-of-electoral-offences.pdf

    It's a mass mailing designed to induce readers to vote for the preferred candidate.

    Thinking about it the section,

    Bribery
    "The offence of bribery includes where
    someone directly or indirectly gives any
    money or procures any office to or for any
    voter, in order to induce any voter to vote
    or not vote."

    "Treating
    A person is guilty of treating if either before,
    during or after an election they directly or
    indirectly give or provide any food, drink,
    entertainment or provision to corruptly
    influence any voter to vote or refrain from
    voting. Treating requires a corrupt intent – it
    does not apply to ordinary hospitality."

    It's a toss up as to whether mentioning gambling in the context of an electoral is a promise of entertainment , as in place a bet and a vote to suit , or if enough people are persuaded to place a bet it's a promise of indirect profit for doing so.

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  11. Getting the same stuff from the SNP in Gordon. 'Free Newspapers' that have never put out an issue before, and are actually just election leaflets pretending to be impartial.

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    1. Edith Snellgrove-WhitmanJune 5, 2017 at 9:59 AM

      A newspaper from a political party is the same thing as a leaflet but just more expensive for the issuer, all parties do them. If you cannot work out a party newspaper from a non-partisan one I would suggest you restart your education.

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  12. We found out what the LibDems were really like when they went into coalition with the Tories, and went on to produce a lying Secretary of State in A Carmichael and an incompetent Chief Secretary to the Treasury in Danny Alexander.
    Lying doesn't break electoral rules unless it is about another candidate to influence the vote. This letter doesn't do that.

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  13. The problem for the LD candidate in this seat is that the SNP candidate is far more popular than what she thinks. Which one has the better personal vote? That leaflet would be deemed a LD election expense despite the ludicrous claim that it is not telling you how to vote.

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  14. To be fair Mike is right here.

    I've run East Dunbartonshire through my calculations (I look at the wikipedia page for the 2015 result and see who came second) and it's quite clear that the Lib Dems are the challenger to the hated SNP. Sorry, I meant to say "the SNP". I'm just telling it like it is.

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    1. Ah cool, thanks for clearing that up for us. There was me thinking the local election results might have had some bearing on this. Thank god you were there to enlighten us

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    2. The Lib Dems are the main challengers everywhere.....

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    3. Clegg's Ostrich Faction 2 - The Tory Arselickers Strike BackJune 5, 2017 at 1:01 PM

      PB is a rat-infested sewer of racism and Daily Mail stupidity exploited by a greedy old grasper who has access to ebargoed polls to use for his betting schemes.

      I'm just telling it like it is.

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  15. 'Doesn't the deliberate deception that this letter represents constitute a breach of electoral regulations?'


    There are no electoral regulations when it comes to 'protecting' the British State and its elite.

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    1. Doesn't the deliberate deception that this letter represents constitute a breach of electoral regulations?

      Those concerned should feel free to detail a small explanation and report it helping the others who are already doing so.

      The rules apply to everyone and not everyone BUT the lib dems.

      https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/contact-us


      The sanctions apply to most breaches of the Political Parties, Elections and Referendums Act (PPERA). Some breaches however can only be dealt with by criminal prosecution. The table below shows which breaches must be dealt with by criminal prosecution, as well as a full list of the breaches we can investigate and sanction.

      https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/our-work/roles-and-responsibilities/our-role-as-regulator-of-political-party-finances/sanctions

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  16. It is certainly beyond pathetic that a party thinks you might vote for them without making any attempt to present policies or to give any background about their candidate.

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  17. ICM Poll giving tories a landslide

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    1. Yes, but there's been no increase since the last ICM poll which was the worst of the campaign for the Tories. It might indicate that a poll from a less Tory-friendly pollster conducted at the same time would show only a small lead.

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    2. shouldn't the pollsters not be friendly with anybody

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    3. shouldn't the pollsters not be friendly with anybody

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    4. I don't know whether that's a seious question, but in this case 'Tory-friendly' just means 'uses methodology that produces better results for the Tories'.

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  18. Lest we forget. M Smithson will have a healthy sum wagered on the result of this seat. Interfering in an election for financial gain is surely a crime?

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    1. http://www.gamblingcommission.gov.uk/PDF/Misuse-of-inside-information.pdf

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    2. If he's got inside info on how the postal voting is going.

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    3. The above relates to any abuse of embargoed polls for betting.

      This is the correct link for electoral malpractice and other more general electoral offences.

      https://www.electoralcommission.org.uk/__data/assets/pdf_file/0005/149729/List-of-electoral-offences.pdf

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  19. This comment has been removed by the author.

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  20. What I find particularly worrying about Smithson's letter is that he doesn't cite any sources for his claim that the LibDems are the only realistic challenger. (Other parties make some dubious claims that they are the only possible challenger etc - but they normally base it on some piece of public data - e.g published polls or previous elections.) As such Smithson's letter could be read as meaning that he has access to some credible data - e.g. third-party constituency polling - that hasn't been published. It is this aspect which, in my mind, makes this letter a potentially misleading piece of electoral literature.

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    1. You can currently get away with just about any old nonsense online with electoral spending and info (a temporary situation which will be tackled soon enough when the implications finally sink in for all the parties) but when it comes to election literature through the post the rules are laid out and fairly clear.

      If there's a reasonable question mark you simply don't do it.
      Desperation is not an excuse or mitigating factor.

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  21. Clegg's Ostrich Faction 2 - The Tory Arselickers Strike BackJune 5, 2017 at 2:11 PM

    Lest anyone seriously need reminding why the lib dems are a political irrelevance and an embarrassing car-crash of inept stupidity.


    https://wingsoverscotland.com/how-elections-work-with-the-lib-dems/

    https://wingsoverscotland.com/if-you-thought-willie-rennie-was-funny/

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