What is in the Tory ‘election smear manual’?
Dossier uses ‘misleading claims’ to discredit rivals according to report
Tory election candidates have been handed a detailed manual on how to attack Labour and Liberal Democrat rivals which contains “potentially misleading claims”, according to a report.
The Guardian says the document “reheats” a “discredited claim” that Labour’s policy on free movement would lead to 840,000 migrants coming to the UK each year.
The dossier claims that the party’s policies would cost the nation £1.2tn, and that every taxpayer could expect a bill of £2,400 with Jeremy Corbyn as prime minister. The claims were debunked earlier this month.
It also alleges that Labour will “automatically” support all strikes, based on a 2015 quote from the shadow chancellor, John McDonnell. However, the party’s manifesto states it will merely “remove unnecessary restrictions on industrial action”.
Turning to the Liberal Democrats, the pamphlet, drafted by the Conservative research department, accuses the party of promoting “pro-pimp” policies and sex work as a career for schoolchildren.
“The Liberal Democrats don’t share people’s values,” the document says. “The Lib Dems have put forward ‘pro-pimp’ policies on prostitution – and have suggested prostitution should be suggested as a career to schoolchildren.”
This false claim is based on rhetorical remarks made three years ago by a former chairman of the Lib Dems’ Cheltenham branch, who was forced to resign because of them.
The dossier also instructs activists to tell voters that the Lib Dems would “replace our nuclear deterrent with unarmed missiles,” even though leader Jo Swinson has stated during the campaign that she is prepared to use nuclear warheads and the party’s manifesto pledges to maintain a minimum nuclear deterrent.
Earlier this month, it was revealed that in a separate briefing note, Tory candidates had been urged not to sign up to specific pledges on protecting the NHS from privatisation and trade deals or tackling climate change.
The 11-page document “strongly advises” prospective Tory MPs “against signing up to any pledges” unless they have been agreed from the centre.
The Tories have been widely accused of dirty tricks during the general election campaign. It has been claimed they bribed Brexit Party candidates not to stand and the party also came under fire for launching a fake website, labourmanifesto.co.uk, on the day Labour launched its manifesto.
The party was also slammed for rebranding of one of its Twitter accounts as a “fact-checking” site during the leaders' debate.
–––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––For a round-up of the most important stories from around the world - and a concise, refreshing and balanced take on the week’s news agenda - try The Week magazine. Start your trial subscription today –––––––––––––––––––––––––––––––