Thursday, April 14, 2011

Are the Liberal Democrats unjust to candidates who face allegations?

Writing about David Jack last night I was reminded of a similar case involving a Liberal Democrat PPC.

In April of last year, just as the general election campaign was getting underway, David Murray withdrew as our candidate for The Wrekin "on the advice of party bosses" over unspecified allegations of "sexual abuse".

Mr Murray maintained his innocence at the time and three months later it was announced that he would face no charges. But by then, of course, his political ambitions, if not his reputation, had been trashed. The original allegations always receive far more publicity than the news that there has turned out to be nothing in them.

You may say that a party has to act swiftly if allegations against an individual candidate threaten its reputation nationally, but there is a danger of that candidate suffering injustice. David Jack told me he was resigned by Cowley Street without being consulted and, reading between the lines, the same thing may have happened to David Murray. There was nothing terribly Liberal about that.

Beyond that, our anxiety to get rid of candidates facing allegations encourages our opponents to dig for dirt and then publicise it, however poorly founded their allegations are. It also accelerates the decline of British politics from a battle of ideas into a hunt for sleaze, gaffes and goofs.


Hywel said...

See also Gavin Webb

Frank Little said...

There was also Tower Hamlets, of course.