Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign


9:00 am - August 24th 2010

by Don Paskini    


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It was revealed yesterday that the founder and Chief Executive of TaxPayers’ Alliance, Matthew Elliott, had stepped down from day-to-day running to lead the ‘No’ campaign in advance of May referendum on the ‘Alternative Vote’ system.

The press release says that Elliott “has accepted an invitation to lead the ‘No’ campaign in next year’s referendum”.

So we called the ‘No 2 AV’ campaign up to find out more.

The ‘No’ campaign claim to be a broadbased, independent campaign, including people from all parts of the political spectrum.

It was surprising, therefore, that the people running the campaign decided to hire a radical right-winger like Elliott, whose rent-a-quote, ill-informed attacks on public services have been funded by anonymous businessmen for the past six years.

Who made this invitation? The No 2 AV press officer informed us that the decision to hire Elliott was made by one person – Rodney Leach.

Baron Leach is a former chairman of the No Euro campaign, a climate change ‘sceptic’ and currently the person solely responsible for making decisions about who leads the No campaign on voting reform. Or that’s what it looks like anyway.

Elliott is not the only employee of the No campaign.

Charlotte Vere, the unsuccessful Tory candidate for Brighton Pavillion at the 2010 election, says she is the National Organiser for the campaign.

Over the past two months, support for voting reform has fallen because Labour supporters have turned against it.

But no matter how many scaremongering articles Elliott’s campaign manage to get the tabloids to print, it says everything you need to know about the ‘No campaign’ that while it pretends to be a broad independent campaign, one person – a Tory Baron – is calling the shots.

And he has hired a failed Tory politician and the chief executive of a right-wing pressure group as the staff for the campaign. The battle lines are clearly drawn.

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About the author
Don Paskini is deputy-editor of LC. He also blogs at donpaskini. He is on twitter as @donpaskini
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Reader comments


1. Mike Killingworth

There are surely two ways to look at this set of manoeuvres.

Either it’s very dim – a credible “no” campaign needs to be associated with figures from the centre and left – it should have at least a couple of people the average conspirator would feel OK about buying a latter for –

Or it’s very bright indeed. They’ve discovered that the average “no” Labour voter is also a Europhobic climate-change-denying taxation-is-thefter. To the extent that such a person is someone who works for cash in hand only, mate, and enjoys the pix in the Daily Sport I suspect they’re on the money.

I expect the AV thing to go down by three to two on a 40% poll.

Firstly, I really think that you should be looking at the merits of the arguments for and against voting reform before worrying about the supposedly ‘partisan’ nature of those arguing their case. Your obvious tribalism in this matter seems to overlook the fact that whoever did the hiring, Matthew Elliot is certainly well qualified to running a campaign against AV.

Secondly I rather think that the entire argument is moot anyways. This article (and the no campaign also) are making the entirely premature assumtion that there is likely to be a public vote. I think this very unlikely. When voting reform comes it will come on the back of a general election campaign where a party can get in with this tucked away in its manifesto, thereby giving it a mandate without public consultation.
Largely, nobody is interested in AV out here in the real world. Ally that the to the fact that the system will need to be changed to ensure that Labour can no longer rely on the votes of Scots to influence purely English and Welsh legislation and you can imagine how much chance this has of going through Parliament. Almost ‘None at All’.
Labour will not vote for fair voting reform for the English as it has such a huge in built advantage in Scottish votes. AV would not be any better than what we have, but if the Tories insist on pushing the boundary changes and the reduction of seats, Labour will make sure that the public never votes.

When the next Labour leader comes out against AV, you’ll no doubt be delighted with whom they are allying themselves.

“Your obvious tribalism in this matter seems to overlook the fact that whoever did the hiring, Matthew Elliot is certainly well qualified to running a campaign against AV.”

Not really. The No campaign is likely to win easily if they manage to be a broadbased campaign with support from the trade unions and some Labour MPs, and if the leadership of Labour and the Greens officially decide to sit it out.

By allowing the campaign to be run as a wholly owned subsidiary of a right-wing Tory Lord, and hiring someone as campaign leader who is detested by lefties, it weakens the campaign. Are the GMB really going to put in £500,000 of their members’ money to help pay the wages of the former CEO of the Taxpayer’s Alliance?

If voting reform turns into a left vs right fight, then the Yes campaign will win, because more lefties will turn out to vote next May.

#5

I don’t agree.

Regarding the GMB’s money, they may decide to give it to a “Labour against AV” campaign or some such thing, or even more likely decide to spend it themselves in putting arguments to their own members about AV.

The main concern for the “no” campaign is that before the election the public are broadly against AV, maybe 60/40, but that they lose on differential turnout because people who want the change are more obsessive about it.

The Tory “no” vote might not be going anywhere but it needs motivating and I can’t think of anyone better to do it than the head of the TPA, however much I disagree with his politics. Of course they’ve had a lot of help in establishing their organisation from the right-wing press, but the contacts and experience he has will be invaluable in a short campaign of a few months’ duration.

I hope they will develop a strategy (perhaps even a sub-unit within the organisation) for reaching out to Labour voters too, but that will require different kinds of skills. Plenty of Labour supporters will use the poll as a referendum on the coalition, pretty much whatever the No2AV campaign do.

Wow…. look at all the jackass tory trolls defending their little creepy tory friends in the Tax payers bullshit outfit. This proves once and for all the tax payers bullshit is a right wing tory subsidiary and it is way time the national media pointed that out when ever they quote these lying sack of shit snake oil salesman.

2 “Firstly, I really think that you should be looking at the merits of the arguments for and against voting reform before worrying about the supposedly ‘partisan’ nature of those arguing their case. ”

Ah yes , tory concern trolling at its worse. Once again coming on a liberal site and telling us what should articles we should write. Go and set up your own site troll.

I think people are looking at this too much through the prism of what party will support what. We’re talking about a referendum here – most of the population don’t much like any of the political parties, and so if the vote actually occurs (which is largely dependent on the position taken by backbench Labour and Tory MPs) the votes they cast are unlikely to relate much to what the parties tell them to do.

If the bulk of the political establishment are seen to unite against AV, it will probably make it considerably more popular. For that reason it’s important to publicly tie No2AV to its backers, rather than letting them set themselves up as non-partisan heroic defenders of the people against liberal politicians…

I’m not a troll Sally, I read most of the political sites from both sides of the fence most days and comment occaisionally on things that particularly bite me.

I just don’t get the whole ‘Taxpayers Alliance’ issue here. The fact is that they have come to prominence at the time when a Labour government was in charge. I expect that they will be no more favourable to any other government if they feel they are not seeing a proper return for taxpayers’ money. That they seem to support a smaller state sector is not wholly surprising, as the larger the state the larger the bill facing the taxpayer. IS good value for money purely a ‘right wing’ idea.

The polarisation of supposedly ‘Left or Right’ thinking is now wearing thin. There are plenty of people who just don’t put themselves into either catagory and I certainly don’t seek to support or attack either. What concerns me most is that tribalism by one side or another for short term political gain is going to allow our voting system to be changed without proper consultation of the people it most affects, the voters.

Why do so many tories lie about their support?

“I just don’t get the whole ‘Taxpayers Alliance’ issue here. The fact is that they have come to prominence at the time when a Labour government was in charge”

Its largely because the TPA have not really been an independant pressure group seeking value for money in the public sector, but actually a partisan attack dog group thats been less than open about its funding and actual ideology. Its track record shows that it repeatedly exaggerates and fails to offer any right to reply – choosing to instead to campaign via dishonest press releases that offer at best a partial view of what the taxpayers money was being spent on. It largely focuses on easy targets such as community development work, which it frequently demonstrates its ignorance about the importance of, yet says virtually nothing about traditional tory areas of spending such as defence or subsidies to the arms trade.

Something tells me this post is rather premature. If Matthew Elliot is half the campaigner he is meant to be (and to be fair, considering how he has made the Taxpayers’ Alliance a notable pressure group, there is evidence for this) he will appoint several prominent members of his campaign group from the left, probably including a deputy. He will also make a lot of use of Labour party figures opposed to AV, and perhaps focus on this as a ‘Liberal-Democrat’ idea (it is not, but it can easily be suggested that it is), thus negating the right-left thing (and before anyone starts, liberals are on both sides of the imaginary political divide, but tend to hang around the centre).

Bluntly, this would be the same as if there had been a referendum in the last parliment on the EU, when prominent left wingers and some unions would campaign alongside much of the Conservative party and the small-state pressure groups. People are generally intelligent enough to realise left/right is not all there is to politics (outside of the sally worldview).

idiot troll

“and to be fair, considering how he has made the Taxpayers’ Alliance a notable pressure group, ”

He has done no so such thing. It is the media, most of which is either tory supporting or like the BBC terrified of the right wing. It is easy to promote anything when the media covers you, and does not tell the truth about who you really are, and who is backing you.

The tax payers bullshit is a right wing pressure group funded by wealthy people many of whom don’t live here, and uses the same tactics as all American right wing groups do, pretend that they are something they are not. Like all Tories they have to lie because the public does not support them if they tell the truth.

Sally,

Fair enough. But why is the Taxpayers’ Alliance rather than say the Libertarian Alliance the wealthy-tax-exile-funded decietful right-wing group of choice of the media when they want to promote their favoured political viewpoint? It wasn’t until two or three years ago when they started to appear on television at all.

And remember that by leading the No campaign, Matthew Elliot is, in your view (see 7 above), once more leading a right-wing ‘tory’ organisation, which I presume you expect will be tax-exile funded once more (it quite possibly will, although there may be some union funds also). So someone who is very good at getting one of these groups noticed and its viewpoint on television is now leading another such group; I think he is even in your worldview the ideal person to lead the no campaign effectively, although you may not be happy about this.

Remember, believing your own assertions and believing the worst of your opponents abilities is quite dangerous. You miss the fact they may be effective, and do not plan to deal with them properly.

#14

Completely agree with you. They might be bastards, but they’re good at being bastards. Competent bastards, even. In a single-issue fight, where there’s no intention to build an ongoing movement, I’d rather fight alongside competent bastards than well-meaning fools.

Tim,

It’s what could be called the Churchill effect. Churchill was an absolute bastard, but was the right leader in 1940 – rather than say the nice Lord Halifax or even th pleasant and much more efficient, but less demagogic Clement Atlee…

Watchman – no one is doubting the effectiveness of the TPA of making the media fall for their agenda.

We’re just laying out the ground to define who the opposition is.

17. Charlieman

@2 Tony E: “Your obvious tribalism in this matter seems to overlook the fact that whoever did the hiring, Matthew Elliot is certainly well qualified to running a campaign against AV.”

It might be true that Matthew Elliot is well qualified to running a campaign against AV. But if I was running the main anti-AV campaign, I wouldn’t have appointed him. He would do a good job at running another anti-AV campaign, but not the main one.

The main anti-AV needs a co-ordinator who can bring in respected, well considered opponents of AV from the Conservative and Labour parties. People that can be trusted for their judgement by voters (a difficult concept, I agree, but one on which all political campaigns are based). I would never consider Elliot for that role.

The press originally fell for the bombardment by press release conducted by the TPA. Gradually, the serious press has become more selective when handling TPA pronouncements. Expect them to inspect anti-AV press releases closely knowing that they come from Matthew Elliot.

“Churchill was an absolute bastard”

Treason! You will be cast out!

19. Charlieman

Manners compel me to apologise for spelling Matthew Elliott without the final “t”.

@Watchman

The prob with the Taxpayers Alliace is the implication – via the name of their outfit – that it speaks for all taxpayers when it issues press releases. Tory astroturf groups like this are becoming v common in the UK, there was one involving nurses that sounded official-sounding except on further investigation it turned out it was founded and run by Tories. Can’t remember the name now but I think Private Eye covered it…


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Dizzy Thinks

    Hilarious shrill post from @libcon that exposes 10% of exactly half of zero http://tinyurl.com/26tnd9k

  2. Richard Holloway

    RT @dizzy_thinks: Hilarious shrill post from @libcon that exposes 10% of exactly half of zero http://tinyurl.com/26tnd9k

  3. Get Political Fund » Blog Archive » Exposed: how Tories run the 'No-2-AV' campaign | Liberal Conspiracy

    […] Read the original here: Exposed: how Tories run the 'No-2-AV' campaign | Liberal Conspiracy […]

  4. Other TaxPayers Alli

    Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, by @donpaskini at @libcon http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  5. antonvowl

    RT @OtherTPA: Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, by @donpaskini at @libcon http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  6. rburkwood

    RT @OtherTPA: Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, by @donpaskini at @libcon http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  7. Achtung Aeon

    Exposed: how Tories run the 'No-2-AV' campaign | Liberal Conspiracy http://ow.ly/18HDlJ

  8. Simon

    RT @OtherTPA: Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, by @donpaskini at @libcon http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  9. Naadir Jeewa

    Reading: Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign: It was revealed yesterday that the founder and Chief Exec… http://bit.ly/ckolzf

  10. Liberal Conspiracy

    Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  11. Pippa Page

    RT libcon Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  12. Pippa Page

    RT @libcon: Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  13. sunny hundal

    Who is behind the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign? @donpaskini does some digging: http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  14. Jon Foster

    RT @sunny_hundal: Who is behind the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign? @donpaskini does some digging: http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  15. James Easy

    RT @sunny_hundal: Who is behind the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign? @donpaskini does some digging: http://bit.ly/du2IBT < I'm amazed they are aware tbh

  16. Simon Foster

    RT @libcon: Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  17. MattHanley

    @garydunion @adamramsay Seems your old friend Charlotte Vere is now National Organiser of the No-2-AV Tory campaign. http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  18. Jay Baker

    RT @libcon: Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  19. Ben Cadwallader

    RT @libcon: Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  20. Dick Mandrake

    RT @OtherTPA Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, by @donpaskini at @libcon http://bit.ly/du2IBT < As endorsed by @iaindale.

  21. Atomic Spin

    Fascinating stuff RT @OtherTPA: Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, by @donpaskini at @libcon http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  22. Nigel Stanley

    RT @libcon: Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, http://bit.ly/du2IBT

  23. Tim Ireland

    RT @DickMandrake: RT @OtherTPA Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign, by @donpaskini at @libcon http://bit.ly/du2IBT < As en …

  24. Wendy Seabrook

    Exposed: how Tories run the ‘No-2-AV’ campaign http://bit.ly/du2IBT #sameoldtories

  25. Richard Wilson

    *Breaking* Taxpayer's Alliance to relaunch as the "Taxpayer's Teaparty" http://bit.ly/bE6env

  26. A Geeky Girl

    RT @dontgetfooled: *Breaking* Taxpayer's Alliance to relaunch as the "Taxpayer's Teaparty" http://bit.ly/bE6env

  27. Oli

    Who's running the 'No to AV' campaign, can you guess?
    http://bit.ly/bE6env

  28. Press Not Sorry

    RT @dontgetfooled: *Breaking* Taxpayer's Alliance to relaunch as the "Taxpayer's Teaparty" http://bit.ly/bE6env

  29. Fairer Votes

    This is a blog entry about the No campaign (thanks to the Oxfordshire group for this link) http://fb.me/x9Mhmrkg

  30. Martin Dillon

    Reading LibCon about the NO2AV campaign being run by far right moon howlers. What they got against Audio Visual anyway? http://bit.ly/bE6env

  31. Marcus A. Roberts

    @AbbyCJones http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/08/24/exposed-how-the-tories-run-the-no-2-av-campaign/

  32. DemocracyFail

    @Nickipedia101 Told by @DickMandrake #no2av run by Chief Exec of TaxPayers Alliance Matthew Elliott: http://bit.ly/bE6env More tomorrow.

  33. Josef Davies-Coates

    Exposed: Tory Baron runs ‘No-2-AV’ campaign http://liberalconspiracy.org/2010/08/24/exposed-how-the-tories-run-the-no-2-av-campaign/





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