Liberal Democrats accused of ‘underhand tactics’ to win over remain voters in Hitchin and Harpenden

PUBLISHED: 13:46 11 December 2019 | UPDATED: 11:36 16 December 2019

The Liberal Democrats have been criticised for spreading misinformation in Hitchin and Harpenden. Picture: JP Asher

The Liberal Democrats have been criticised for spreading misinformation in Hitchin and Harpenden. Picture: JP Asher

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Hitchin and Harpenden Liberal Democrats have been accused of “unacceptable” and “underhand” tactics in an attempt to win over remain voters ahead of tomorrow’s General Election.

The party has been slammed for spreading misinformation that the Labour Party has 'admitted defeat' and is no longer competing for the seat.

John Hayes, Hitchin Labour party chairman, said he was forced to take to social media over the weekend to confirm that "Labour have not withdrawn" and are still campaigning in the constituency.

Labour complained that residents had been approached by Lib Dem canvassers who were claiming that the Labour Party had withdrawn from the Hitchin and Harpenden seat, and were advising their supporters to vote Liberal Democrat.

One Liberal Democrat leaflet seen by this paper claims in bold font that "Labour admit they can't win", followed by a sentence which asserts that "Labour are officially out of the race at the election in Hitchin and Harpenden on Thursday".

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Liberal Democrat candidate for Hitchin and Harpenden, Sam Collins, said the leaflets were published in response to emails sent by Labour to local party members admitting that the "best way to make a difference is to head to Stevenage".

Mr Collins said: "In the past week, Labour HQ distributed an email to its local supporters directly instructing them to focus their attention away from Hitchin and Harpenden. This is clear evidence that they have in fact given up on winning in Hitchin and Harpenden and are focusing their activists on the neighbouring constituencies of Bedford and Stevenage."

He added: "It's quite brazen that Labour are calling the Liberal Democrats misleading when they have published the most misleading manifesto in history."

Another Lib Dem leaflet appears to quote the Herts Advertiser as saying the Lib Dems are polling "5.7% behind the Conservatives" - although the extract was merely lifted from the Liberal Democrats' own canvassing data included in the article, published on December 9.

READ MORE: General Election 2019: Is there everything to play for in Hitchin and Harpenden constituency?

Labour candidate for Hitchin and Harpenden, Kay Tart, accused the party of "underhanded, dirty tactics", while Hitchin Labour district councillor Ian Albert said the Liberal Democrats "have set a new low bar for factual campaigning".

As it stands, Tactical Vote is offering no recommendation for the Hitchin and Harpenden constituency - however seven independent tactical voting sites are now advising a Liberal Democrat vote, for those who wish to obstruct a Conservative majority.


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