Archive for Charlotte Vere

Tory red-bashing is dirty campaigning

Tory PPC for Brighton Pavilion, Charlotte Vere, has sunk to further depths by continuing to paint the Greens ‘red’.

She continually tries to compare the Greens to both the ‘Communist Party’ (there isn’t one in the UK, only the CPB and CPGB) and Respect, a moderate left-wing force focussed in a few areas and headed by firebrand MP, George Galloway, and the impressive Salma Yaqoob, the Respect candidate for Birmingham Hall Green.

Charlotte Vere’s logic is, that because the Greens have shared a platform with Respect (as well as CND, Oxfam, Friends of the Earth and others), and, because Respect had the participation of ‘communist’ parties, the Greens are somehow in bed with the ‘Commies’ doing the dirty. The only dirty thing here is Charlotte’s style of campaigning, which is anything but clean.

I share The Independent’s analysis that the Greens are ‘radical social democrat’, but I’m proud to say that we’re a party with clear egalitarian principles. To paint the Greens as ‘Marxist’, or somehow part of the ‘old Left’, is deceitful and sign of a paranoid hysteria. Maybe someone needs to tell Charlotte Vere that the Cold War is over and that red-bashing fell out of favour with Joe McCarthy.

Yes, there are a few reds about and yes, we have socialists and other leftists in the Green Party (as does Labour – believe it or not – and the Church of England), but the Greens are a democratic, egalitarian and open party. The ‘Policies for a Sustainable Society‘ (PSS) is open for everyone to see and our twice-yearly conference is open to anyone wishing to attend.

Charlotte’s attempts at smearing the Greens are not only deceitful, they are also laughable. It only further damages her campaign and, if she’s not careful, she might well end up getting the nickname ‘ Charlotte-does-Smear’…alot.

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Tory candidate in “hard working families” gaffe

Charlotte Vere, the Tory PPC for Brighton Pavilion, wrote a recent post for Conservative Home, which she has cross-posted on her website. Whilst the post is mostly nonsense, it also shows how dangerously out of touch Ms. Vere is. In the post she said:

The constituency is very diverse. It ranges from bohemian and fairly liberal areas in the centre to hard working families on the outskirts of the city.

“Hard working families on the outskirts”!? Are there no hard-working families in St. Peters and North Laine, Hanover and Elm Grove, Regency or Preston Park? Has Charlotte ever actually visited these parts of the constituency? If she did, I’m pretty sure she would see that Preston Park has one of the highest concentrations of young families in the constituency. She would also have seen that Hanover and Elm Grove has plenty of young, hard-working families, whose lifestyle is far from “bohemian.”

Charlotte’s lack of knowledge about the demographics of the constituency, and her clear disregard to constituents living in the centre of Brighton, has revealed a Tory strategy of playing to the core vote. Charlotte Vere isn’t interested in reaching out to voters in Preston Park or Hanover and Elm Grove, if she was, she certainly would know more about the people living in those wards, and would know there are plenty of “hard working families” living in the centre of Brighton. This is one of many gaffes coming from Charlotte Vere.

At a recent meeting with students from the University of Sussex, Ms. Vere failed to answer many of the questions, simply brushing them off and saying, “I’ll get back to you.” She also dismissed the student vote as “socialist” in a recent interview with The Daily Politics – further reinforcing the image of an out of touch Tory candidate who knows very little about the constituency they’re fighting in.

Charlotte’s continued gaffes are further undermining her credibility as a candidate, as well as losing respect amongst those who initially welcomed her candidacy as a break with the past – it seems as though she has reverted to the norm, and is chasing the core Tory vote in the ‘outskirts’ of the constituency.

If Charlotte continues along her present trajectory she may find herself stalling, failing to advance, and confined to the ‘outskirts’ of, not only the constituency but, Conservative politics nationally.

In short, she’s doing herself no favours.

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New media in Brighton Pavilion

It is now established that if you’re a candidate standing for election you need a campaign website. For a lot of candidates this is the first thing they think of. Why? Because it is a cheap, resourceful tool in communicating your message to potential voters. It is also important for candidates to have the most attractive website they can get. Visitors to a site need to be taken on a journey, they need to find small pockets of interest that keep them coming back for more.

Nearly all candidates standing for election either maintain a blog or a news content page. This is true for all three main candidates in Brighton Pavilion, Caroline, Nancy, and Charlotte. Out of all of them it is Caroline who updates hers the most, either through her blog or through her campaign news. Both of these are similar but, at the same time, rather different. Caroline’s blog section discusses mainly the campaign trail, her meetings with local associations and the finer points of her agenda for the constituency. Her campaign news, which is updated less often than her blog, provides the press with details of Caroline’s positions and statements, as you would expect from a news section.

It should be noted that Charlotte and Nancy don’t separate the two. For Charlotte, her blog is also her news content page (she does have a ‘media’ page but that hasn’t been updated since January 16th- remember those snowy days?) Nancy, on the other hand, only has her news content, and this is updated a couple of times a week.

Nancy prefers to use twitter to keep her followers up to date with where she is and what she’s doing, using this to great effect. Charlotte, whilst using twitter in a similar vein to Nancy, is also much more personal, perhaps far too personal in her correspondence with her followers, particularly with her Green ones. Whilst Charlotte has a tendency to always ‘@’ Caroline (I think she may have given up by now), many of her tweets meet with immediate response from Greens, partly due to Charlotte’s antagonistic style. Yes, we know that twitter is a world mostly populated by people averse to the Conservatives, but there is something dogged in her chase for Caroline to reply to her tweets.

I think, and most certainly hope, that Charlotte has backed away from this style, especially for her own sake. We have not seen her update nearly as often, neither are her tweets focussed purely on Caroline. Whilst it is too early to say whether this is a tactical change in Charlotte’s social media strategy- perhaps someone has had a quiet word with her- it would be a welcome move if she would tone down on the ‘reply’s and ‘@’s to people who are clearly not going to agree with her.

Brighton Politics Blog, BPB for short, posted a similar article on Brighton Pavilion and new media back in January, go check it out.

By the way, does anybody know if CCHQ is still vetting PPC tweets?

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Charlotte Vere’s lack of respect

Today, Charlotte Vere, the Tory PPC for Brighton Pavilion, made a crass attack on Caroline Lucas by asserting it was shameful that Caroline Lucas could support both ex-service personnel and Cpl. Joe Glenton, the soldier who refused to serve in Afghanistan on the grounds that he believed the war was illegal.

On Twitter, Ms. Vere posted:

@garydunion If @carolinelucas is a pacifist and supports deserters, she has no place ‘supporting’ British Legion. Shame on her

Ms. Vere further added:

@garydunion And supporting desertion? Would an ex-serviceman/woman welcome @carolinelucas into their home if they knew that?

Not only was this a crass attack on Lucas, and one might add, a new low for Ms. Vere (who was previously criticised over a link on her blog to an article comparing the Greens to the BNP), but it is an attack on the courage of Cpl. Glenton who, despite the media backlash against his good name, was courageous enough to say ‘no’.

Rather than acknowledging courage, Ms. Vere was quite forthcoming in letting us know what kind of opinion she had of Cpl. Glenton. I wonder if Ms. Vere also holds Quakers and other conscientious objectors in such high esteem.

It is perfectly clear what Ms. Vere thinks of pacifists and, as a pacifist myself, I’m insulted by Ms. Vere’s use of the term as a political insult.

I have family members currently serving in the armed forces in Afghanistan, I also stand firmly behind Joe Glenton’s conscientious objection to serving in an illegal war with no possible end. I am proud of both, why would I not be? Both the step-cousin, currently serving in Afghanistan, and Joe Glenton, who refused to participate in an illegal war, have acted upon principle and conviction. My uncle, step-aunt and step-cousins are all fully aware of my politics and convictions, I’ve never once, ever, been refused entry into their home.

Just because Caroline Lucas- like myself and many others- opposed the Iraqi and Afghanistani conflict, it does not mean she lacks respect for those men and women serving in the country. Ms. Vere’s lack of respect for her fellow candidate, and her improper and nasty smear of Joe Glenton, should not be forgotten too quickly.

If Charlotte Vere wants to be the representative for the people of Brighton Pavilion she has to focus her election campaign around policy, ideas and vision,  not the cheap nonsense like this afternoon’s Twitter outburst.

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Clean your own house first, please

Because Charlotte Vere has a reluctance to publish any of my comments, I figured I would publish my most recent one in response to her blogpost, ‘Publication of Legg report increases pressure on Ms. Lucas to publish her expenses:’

“I’d be interested to know if you’ve contacted any of your Conservative colleagues over their European Parliamentary allowances?

I think it should be a case that you saw your party clean its own house (or moats) before hounding someone who was given a high approval rating from the independent think-tank, Open Europe, for her transparency on allowances.”

Update: Charlotte Vere has said  the report never covered allowances. In fact, the Open Europe report covered the issue of allowances because it included criteria on how MEPs voted in regards to making the allowance system clearer and more transparent to voters. It’s not Caroline Lucas’ fault that some of Charlotte Vere’s Tory colleagues in the European Parliament failed to back modest measures on transparency.

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Can anyone be a Conservative?

In a different time it’s not hard to imagine that Charlotte Vere may have ended up as one of ‘Blair’s Babes’, after all, the Tory candidate for Brighton Pavilion seems to be touching on policy issues which reflect more on Blair’s style, rather than that of the traditional Tory. She herself admitted to John Harris earlier in the week: “Anyone can be a Tory.” 

David Cameron is a Blair Mach II, the third in line to Thatcher’s throne, with promises for more market interventions into public services, greater privatisation and the encouragement of a ‘free’ enterprise mentality. It’s not that hard to think, what if this was 1997 and not 2010? Could we expect Charlotte Vere to be wearing the red rosette rather than the blue ribbon? Perhaps, but it’s worth remembering that Vere is one of Cameron’s candidates through and through, eager to ‘stay on message’, except for the diversion on fox hunting, Ms. Vere has signed up to ‘Vote Cruelty Free’ along with the other Pavilion candidates.

Jon Cruddas, Labour MP for Dagenham, noted this in this week’s New Statesman:

“What the language of compassionate conservatism does is reintroduce the notion of fraternity for the right…By talking about fraternity you discover a language which is kinder, gentler and more emotionally robust compared to the shrill, empty words of the focus group…Cameron speaks this kind of language. It enables him to come across as a more rounded, open, plural figure. Blair was that type of figure, once, before 2001. But now, literally, Labour has lost it’s language.”

For Cruddas, Cameron is a man to be admired. A winning man. After all, isn’t that what any comparison with Blair is really saying? If you’re Blair, you’re a winner. It’s not hard to believe that the new breed of Tories could have followed Blair, after all, he’s the reason why Cameron is looking more likely to take the keys to Number 10 after the General Election, regardless of ‘narrowing polls’ and the spin coming from Labour HQ. There is little doubt in the public’s mind that Brown will be going, one way or another.

I don’t wish to label Ms. Vere a careerist, far from it, she was one of Cameron’s new candidates who answered the call to step forward in the wake of the MPs expenses scandal. But one can’t help but feel the ‘answering of the call’ would not have happened if the wind was blowing a different way. Ms. Vere admitted that she had only been a member of the Conservative Party for two years, hardly an indication of her commitment to the party’s core values, which are quickly evaporating, much in the same way as Labour’s core values have disappeared.

Once a party committed to narrowing the wealth gap and state intervention in creating access to new opportunities for society’s least off, Labour now favours Private Finance Initiatives (PFI), a greater role of the market in determining ‘choice’ for individuals in public services and the dismantling of an education system which was once seen as exemplary and admired around the world.

I believe partisan politics are good. I’m not a fan of the centre ground. I believe the move to the centre has led to the dumbing down of our political system. Gone is great oratory, long debate and principled pleas to traditional bases of support. Instead, the change in style has led to lower turnout, unclear choices and a failure to address the needs, wants and aspirations for so many people. I believe in a left and right. I believe in progress and conservatism. I believe difference is healthy.

It’s a shame ideology is lost, it’s even more of a shame that ‘anyone can be a Conservative’, it’s sad, but true, and very disheartening.

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