Public Health England condemn Covid campaigning irresponsibility of Lib Dems
|Author: Ian McCord - Conservative||Published: 22nd January 2021 09:55|
Conservatives have today joined the County’s Public Health expert in calling out the Liberal Democrats violation of the current Government guidance about campaigning under Covid-19 lockdown restrictions. The guidance under lockdown restrictions has prohibited door-to-door leafleting as political parties campaign for the May elections.
But these rules – which were applied both during the second lockdown in November and the current lockdown – were broken as leaflets in the style of a deceptive tabloid-styled newsletter from the Liberal Democrats have been distributed over the Borough and beyond.
Director of Public Health for Northamptonshire, Lucy Wightman said in an email to West Northants Shadow Leader Ian McCord, “My view is that canvassing/leaflet dropping is not volunteering in the spirit of lockdown (i.e. just because the people delivering are volunteers doesn’t fit with the fact volunteering to support those in need is allowed at this time) and so would advocate the use of Royal Mail if leaflet drops are required (but appreciate the cost may be prohibitive).”
This email was referred to by Lucy in a public meeting of the Oversight Board of 21/01/21 following questions from Councillors.
With these restrictions imposed, like the majority of locals have in their day-to-day lives, Conservatives continue, to abide by these rules and halt distributions of any campaigning leaflets. We will put the safety of residents above the cheap electioneering stunts of the Lib Dems. On The Andrew Marr Show aired on BBC1 17/01/21, their own Leader Sir Ed Davey acknowledged this direction of the Party. Our firm view is that this is nothing but pure political opportunism. Conservatives ask this to stop immediately.
Lib Dems have attempted to take advantage of advice given to other voluntary groups, such as those organisations delivering food to hard to reach communities in this crisis. The Lib Dems are trying to find a loophole in the law to classify politicking as “voluntary service” that cannot “reasonably be undertaken from home” and therefore exempt, according to their Leader on Marr. The Conservatives, the independent Director of Public Health and even the Assistant Chief Constable for Northants Police (referenced in the same email) do not share this interpretation.
West Northants Conservative Group Leader Ian McCord said:
“We are deeply disappointed - but not surprised, that the Lib Dems are looking for loop holes in the law to continue with deliveries. It is clear this is not within the spirit of the law. Every touch leaves a trace. They are putting lives at risk for party political purposes. This is not voluntary service like delivering a food parcel or getting medicine for vulnerable people which is rightly permitted.
“The Lib Dems are seeking to make political advantage from the pandemic, recklessly risking the safety of residents and their own activists. This is not the approach followed by the Conservative Party. I am sure the voters of West Northants will take their behaviour into consideration at the forthcoming local elections.”