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An Interesting View Point

I was pleased to accept an invitation to address a Politics Access course group of students at Chesterfield College on the 8th February.
The purpose was to give the students an insight into modern campaigning methodologies. For me, it was a great opportunity to engage with young people on their response to the political literature and campaigning methodologies used by political parties.
The students were unequivocal in describing a preference for positive political campaiging foucsing on the achievements and proposals of the party in question rather than denigrating opponents. I was glad to hear that they considered our latest newspaper ‘Chesterfield Matters’ had achieved that benchmark.
Interesting then, that this discussion should take place on the day that the Conservative Party attempted to shift the news agenda away from stories about their own indecision and infighting onto a vicious personal attack on the character of the Prime Minister.
So why, when all political parties are told that negative campaigning puts off the electorate, do the Tories persist in these highly personal negative attacks.
Simply because ‘dirt sticks’ as they say. Most of the great political images that stay in the mind tend to be of the negative imagery attributed to political figures by the press and their opponents.
Who can forget the ‘Labour isn’t working’ billboards that presaged a Tory Government who would put an extra two million people on the dole within three years?
Would we think of John Major as the grey man, of David Cameron being all show and no substance or even of the eloquent and brilliant Neil Kinnock as maybe a little too verbose if it wasn’t for the skill of the political satirists and opponents.
So negative campaigning is here to stay, but at what cost. A recent LibDem letter distributed in Chesterfield to defend the expenses of the MP chose to do so by claiming that I had mounted a disgraceful smear campaign against the MP’s wife.
Yet ten days after being challenged to back up these claims the MP appears to have gone into hiding- unable to substantiate the claim but happy to leave it lying there, hoping that little a ‘dirt sticks’.
Is it any wonder that around 40% of those eligible to elect the next MP of Chesterfield will decline to do so, when a sitting MP can attempt to seek re-election not on the strength of his past performance or on his future proposals but simply by casting doubts about his opponents character.
For my part, I am happy to say what I stand for and what I stand against, and from that point on, leave it to the people of Chesterfield to decide.

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I am Toby Perkins, Labour's Member of Parliament for Chesterfield. If you would like to get in touch with me, my office is open and can be reached by phone on 01246 386 286. I also hold regular surgeries so that constituents can meet me and I can take up their concerns. If you would like to make an appointment then please do contact my office. Thank you for visiting.

Contact Toby

Tel: 01246 386286
Post: 113 Saltergate, Chesterfield, S40 1NF


I hold regular surgeries for my constituents.
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