Web Analytics Trust People (once an Englishman in Philly): LibDems: bribe kids with sweets for campaign help

Tuesday, April 04, 2006

LibDems: bribe kids with sweets for campaign help

No wonder they're in favour of votes at 16. The Liberal Democrat's latest campaign manual contains an outrageous piece of advice for candidates in the forthcoming elections advising them to dole out "badges and toffees" as incentives for any children on an estate to help hand out leaflets. I am staggered that the party can condone exploiting children in this manner at the same time as encouraging them to accept sweets from strangers. This bribery could, after all, be their first and formative experience of the political process. Sadly, it's just another example of shameless and cheap LibDem campaigning.

Previous editions of the same publication have exhorted candidates to "be wicked, act shamelessly, stir endlessly", amongst other dubious practices, and yet the LibDem response still tries to take the moral highground. Apparently, "rather than launching negative attacks on our opponents, Liberal Democrats will be campaigning during these elections on the issues that matter to local people, such as the environment, Council Tax, crime and anti-social behaviour." They see nothing wrong with this. Then again, it will help them get elected. No more Kennedy, no more "hohnest politics" for the Liberals.

UPDATE: This aspect doesn't seem to be getting picked up in the wider media but there actually is some concern for the consequences of using children in this way. An earlier paragraph says that "if they [the children] are being used as part of an overall system of rounds, make sure their parents understand your needs, and that the children are observing them. (Yes, we have found 300 election leaflets in a litter bin at the local bus stop)." The only concern expressed about using and exploiting children in this way is that the LibDems themselves may lose out! Nothing to do with the children at all. Let's hope Mark Oaten didn't pioneer this technique...


At 5:52 pm, Blogger Peter Black said...

I think the reference to this method is meant to be ironic, to illustrate how it should not be done. I accept that it is badly worded. The part of the passage you did not quote is that which stresses in large letters that children should NOT be used to leaflet unaccompanied by an adult and certainly should not be used without the parents consent.

At 11:42 pm, Blogger Edward said...

If that's the case it certainly could be better phrased!

With regards to the last point you make, I think you are overstating the sentence to which you refer. "Do not let parents send childen out unsupervised to deliver your leaflets" does not intimate that children "certainly should not be used without the parents consent". It suggests regulation of the parents rather than the children and also clearly implies that so long as the local LibDem is delivering as well there is not a problem. Many parents may have let their child out to play unsupervised not fully appreciating the prospect that could develop into political campaigning unsupervised.

The principle should surely be about training children not to be too trusting, not to accept bribes from strangers and about positively obtaining consent from children's parents. This is far from clear even applying to the totality the very generous interpretation you seek for "the Freitag method".

At 12:26 pm, Anonymous Anonymous said...

I don't think you have addressed the issue of contents of these leaflets. Is it really a good idea to encourage children to go around peddling half truths and misleading "facts" that are the hallmarks of so many Liberal leaflets?


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