Tory Candidate Insults Journalists & Local People
Edward Davey has called on the Tory Candidate for his seat, the ex-Dover MP, David Shaw, to apologise to journalists and local residents for "insulting their intelligence". He has also questioned Mr.Shaw's commitment to police given the Conservative record.
His comments came after Mr. David Shaw tried again to mislead local papers and people about what has happened in Parliament. Mr. Davey expressed his "astonishment" because Mr.Shaw's claims can "so easily be disproved by anyone who bothers to consult the record".
In two press releases, Mr.Shaw manages to make four false claims, about the Liberal Democrats' post office policy, about Mr.Davey's voting record, about how the Liberal Democrats voted on government expenditure and about Mr.Davey's website. [Details of the claims and proof they are false in notes to editors below.]
Commenting on Mr.Shaw's tactics of deliberately misleading people, Edward Davey said:
"I am actually not surprised that Mr.Shaw is trying to mislead people. I was warned by former constituents of his from Dover that he would campaign in a highly unpleasant manner, and they have been proved right.
"In Parliament, one Labour MP gave Mr.Shaw the label of "Parliament's Number One smear merchant"*, and he's obviously not lost any of his charm.
"Mr.Shaw should start his campaign again, and begin by apologising to the local press and people for insulting their intelligence."
Responding to Mr.Shaw's police comments, Mr.Davey said:
"Mr.Shaw's comments on police ring hollow given he supported a Government that cut Kingston's police numbers by over 40 officers. The Conservatives' record speaks for itself. In Government, the Tories failed to tackle crime. Violent crime rose every year they were in power, from 1979 to 1997. They promised the country more police but delivered nearly 500 fewer over the last parliament.
"The Conservatives' latest police policy is yet more of the same - another empty promise to try and win a few more votes.
"If it is not an empty promise, then perhaps Mr Shaw would explain to local residents how his party's pledge to cut £12 million of public services in Kingston & Surbiton will not lead fewer to bobbies on the beat?"
* David Winnick, 16/5/96 Hansard Col: 1086. Many other MPs made similar observations about Mr.David Shaw, on the record, in Hansard.
1. Post Office
· The motion on 12th April 2000 refered to in Mr.Shaw's press release, tabled by Mrs. Angela Browning (Member of Parliament for Tiverton and Honiton), included the phrase, "Applauds the determination of the last Conservative Government to maintain a national network of post offices." - It would have been hypocritical for LibDems to support this motion and would have damaged the campaign to save the Post Office Network from privatisation, so we voted against a TORY motion. Labour also voted against it.
· Three months earlier, the Liberal Democrats had organised a debateon Post Offices Hansard, 17/01/2000 records: "Dr. Vincent Cable (Liberal Democrat MP for Twickenham): I beg to move, "That this House deplores the continuing decline under successive governments in the sub-post office network which is contributing to growing financial exclusion especially among pensioners and other low-income groups; regrets the Government's intention to press ahead with automated credit transfer from 2003 which will lead to further large scale closures and will deny freedom of choice; and urges the Government to postpone automated credit transfer until the Post Office has developed its own automated platform and, as part of the Universal Service Obligation, require Post Office Counters to maintain a sub-post office network which satisfies broad social and economic as well as narrow financial criteria of viability."
No Conservative MP voted in support of this motion.
· Mr.Shaw's record on Post Offices is very poor. When he was the MP for Dover, 3 post offices closed in his constituency yet he did nothing locally or in Parliament to protect them. Even when there was an outcry over moving a large Crown Post Office in Deal, he didn't turn up to a public meeting to hear his residents' concerns. Information from the Post Masters Federation
Refer to Hansard for more details.
2. Voting record
· Contrary to Mr.Shaw's claims that Mr.Davey misses half the votes in Parliament, the Commons' Library's latest figures for Mr.Davey's voting participation for the current session (up to July 2000) show Mr.Davey voted in 73% of votes, and was ranked 203rd highest in Parliament, way above half, and a higher participation rate than the vast majority of Conservative MPs. See Parliament page which gives his voting record (though currently only up to June 2000) and copies the Commons Library explanation of how the figures are calculated.
3. How Liberal Democrats voted on government expenditure on 21st December 1999
· The vote taken on 21st December 1999 was on a Conservative motion and was not a procedural motion for the Budget. LibDems voted against the TORY motion because it was economically irresponsible, and because it did not call for any extra spending on the police. Mr.Davey spoke in the debate in the Commons on that day, and called for more spending, not less. "There are no real constraints on a targeted, modest increase in public expenditure. There is no doubt that our schools and hospitals need it; our police services certainly need it. Macro-economic stability would not be prejudiced so long as the spending increases were not accompanied by large tax cuts. Public finances are healthy, so the Chancellor can afford to make that extra investment." 21 Dec 1999
Note: Mr.Davey specifically called for MORE police spending, exactly the opposite to Mr.Shaw's claim.
Refer to Hansard for full details of the Tory motion and Mr Davey's speeches.
4. About Mr.Davey's website
· Mr.Shaw claims a press release on the website is misleading because it "made no reference to the fact the new sorting office is going to Feltham". Yet the press release can be seen on the website, and is not misleading. Mr.Davey has widely advertised the fact that Surbiton's sorting office is moving to Feltham, for example in his 2nd annual report delivered to every household in his constituency free of charge. He has publicly welcomed this on several occasions because it will improve the local postal service and reduce congestion in Surbiton high street.