Jacob Williams

Party planners: The party files, Pt. 2

Sunday 21st October, 2012
Party planners: The party files, Pt. 2

It’s been a busy week since last Sunday, for both me and this website. Earlier in the week I learned that a cabinet member has been instructed to get to the bottom of Partygate, and, having now pieced together other bits of information that have come my way, I’ve concluded that he and his top-ranking IPG members have suddenly developed a bout of itchy scalp.

This second instalment to the Party planners series covers the comprehensive leaflet and canvassing campaign that the Independent Group runs for its candidates. As with last week’s post, this post only covers the antics of the 2008 election.

Going to the polls 2008

The number of candidates whose 2008 election literature I have in the Party files is fifteen, though you might be surprised that one of those was not an IPG candidate. As the IPG election campaigns are such slick political operations run by experienced masterminds, all of the files are well organised into folders with the names of the candidates, a screenshot of which I’ve produced below:

If you couldn’t work it out, the non-IPG council candidate’s folder is labelled “David Edwards.”

David Edwards was standing for Labour in the Monkton ward where Pearl Llewellyn went on to defend her seat with a large majority. Within his folder are four scanned copies – both sides of his colour leaflet, and both sides of his letter to the Monkton electorate. I suspect the IPG was keen to make sure its candidates’ literature was as tempting and persuasive as the literature put out by candidates standing for the registered political parties such as Edwards. He is also the same Dave Edwards, reader of this website, who made a comment on last week’s update – and by the sound of it, he isn’t very flattered by the IPG’s antics.

Of the fourteen IPG candidates, the material created for them includes folded leaflets, A4 posters and letters, and nearly all of them had a small calling card, a quarter the size of a sheet of A4, with their name and photograph on. I get the impression that these cards were seen as the most useful tool in the literature campaign.

Perhaps the reason they are so popular is because they are cost-effective, perhaps it’s because they don’t require much information on them, or perhaps it’s because four can be printed on a sheet of A4 meaning 2,000 per ream of paper. Who knows, but I’ve reproduced a selection of the postcards, of which Sian James was the only candidate to get two designs:

You might be aware that Frayling, Havard and Rowlands went in to these elections as incumbent Labour councillors, and all the rest were IPG councillors defending their seats, except Lloyd, Morgan and Sheldrake. Lloyd and Sheldrake weren’t successful, but it’s interesting  to note that the IPG doesn’t limit itself to helping the re-election campaigns of serving councillors, but actively seeks candidates to endorse and promote for wards they think they can win. As last week’s post demonstrated, sometimes in wards there are more than one ‘independent’ candidate standing, and the IPG is confident of signing up the winner, whoever wins.

The candidate who received the largest proportion of the IPG’s party-political ammunition going into the 2008 elections was Mike Lloyd, and it’s not surprising why the IPG were happy to lavish such resources on his campaign. The incumbent, Moira Lewis, was a Plaid Cymru councillor, and she was defending a slim majority from the 2004 elections of 27 votes. Somehow (perhaps my readers will be able to fill me in) Mike Lloyd, who I can gather from the leaflet was a town councillor and former mayor, became the endorsed IPG candidate to go up against her. In the election, Lewis went on to increase Plaid Cymru’s share, beating Mike Lloyd in to second by 53 votes.

Not that you need me to tell you, but one of the benefits of being in a political party is that the party members rally together to help candidates to win, and that ‘help’ includes the sort of tactics being revealed here, such as the generation of election literature. If we take a Labour candidate going in to these elections – say David Edwards whose leaflet is reproduced above, it is more than likely that a Labour candidate standing in another ward of the county would be distributing similarly styled leaflets as Edwards was – with the Labour colours, logos, branding and design layout. Of course there would be nothing wrong with this because parties are there to support and help their candidates, and that includes professional help in designing, printing and distributing literature.

Much like a normal party campaign, these leaflets and calling cards crafted for the IPG candidates – from Fishguard to Kilgetty, via Merlins Bridge and Wiston – all have the same look and feel to them. It’s such a brazen approach, and, though they’ve always denied operating as a political party, there is no attempt to cover up this tell-tale sign, or to differentiate them to make it look as though they had been self-published.

Knowing how inquisitive the people of Pembrokeshire are, and also knowing that this material was obviously intended to be put into the public domain (hand-delivered by the candidates) what surprises me is that the similarities between the literature of supposedly independent candidates hasn’t been noticed until now. However, I’m not overlooking the possibility that these leaflets went straight in the bin.

Much like the cabinet member who’s been assigned to get to the bottom of Partygate, I too have been out with my magnifying glass.  I’ve noticed that some of the photographs have similar backgrounds. I recognised that the photo of the then leader from the unfinished Independent poster in last week’s Partygate post, crops up again. If I’m not mistaken, this is the view from County Hall, taken only a few steps away from the cabinet room. If only the potted plant could talk!

That’s not the only photographic similarity I’ve spotted – this time, the backdrop is County Hall itself:

Files inside the folder ‘Canvasing’

The files of election literature I’ve reproduced above, were all created from late March to mid-April, leaving plenty of time to get them printed and distributed ahead of the May 1st polling day. So with the paperwork out of the way, the next weapon in the arsenal was unleashed: helping to distribute them.

I mentioned earlier that one of the benefits of being in a party is that you can get help delivering leaflets and getting your message out, and the IPG as a party is no different. Apart from that small matter of Cllr. David Bryan in 2012 elections (more to come in a future update), the IPG certainly can’t be accused of abandoning its candidates and leaving them to fend for themselves. One of the folders in my haul is titled ‘Canvasing’ (I hasten to add that mis-spelling isn’t my own) and within this folder are canvassing timetables for the dates leading up to polling day. This probably ties in to the ‘responsibility’ as outlined in the last Partygate post, and, though anybody is allowed to distribute a candidate’s leaflets, it does rather detract from the claims of independence, not to mention the other things wrong with doing this on council computers:

Files inside the folder ‘phone no’

Finally, one name inside a folder called ‘phone no’ remains anonymous. If anybody knows who ‘Don Bedos’ might be, I’d be interested to know. The telephone number inside the document is a Manorbier/Jameston number.

←The party files, Pt. 1

Plotting the 2008 election campaign

The party files, Pt. 3→

Poll count and post-election antics 2008


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13 Comments...

  • Dave Edwards

    I am glad that the mole catcher’s traps are not working as the evidence that the IPG is a pseudo political party mounts. When as many as 14 candidates put out the same literature with the same wording in the same typeface, there is only one conclusion to be drawn.

    Under election rules parties or groups that are standing as a unit should register as such, but then electoral honesty has been sadly lacking from candidates in PCC elections since it was reformed in 1996.

  • Tessa Hodgson

    Brilliant stuff. Full credit to you Jacob, for exposing these so called ‘independents’ for what they are – a well organised political party.

  • A Clark

    Both this website, and Mike Stoddart’s blog are doing a fine job, but how do we ensure electoral honesty comes to Pembrokeshire?

  • Tessa Hodgson

    We can do our bit to ensure electoral honesty comes to Pembrokeshire by supporting websites like Jacob’s and Old Grumpy’s. Unaffiliated or true independent councillors now number 13 on PCC, so change is coming, albeit slowly.

  • As Tessa said, by spreading the word.

    Whilst I very much doubt it, it is quite possible that the voters find this sort of party-politics to be perfectly acceptable for their so-called independent council candidates – and they are perfectly entitled to hold that opinion.

    However, to be able to form their own opinions or have their say on these antics, the voters are also entitled to be made aware of all the facts beforehand, and it seems some candidates go out of their way to disguise their true intentions and affiliations.

  • Helen S

    Hi Jacob – your mole is doing wonders for democracy in Pembrokeshire. It’s really good to think that at least one person (and obviously someone quite high ranking) in the IPG has the courage and decency to share this stuff with us.

  • Paul Absalom

    Well done Jacob, obviously the geriatrics that have been running this county (and lining their pockets) didn’t count on the younger generation with a grasp of modern technology finding them out. Ha ha!

  • Robert

    It would be interesting to know if any of the election literature was printed at the tax payers’ expense?

  • Keanjo

    Keep this up Jacob and you will never be invited to join the IPGs at the trough.

  • J****

    REDACTED FOR LEGAL REASONS:

    ** ******** ** ****** * *** ******* **. For fear of what would come of my position I won’t declare all the details but ******* ******* regularly ***** ******** ******** and use the ******* **** *** ** ********** *****, *** at the taxpayers cost. It’s a scandal, challenge them and **** *** * **** **** when ***** ***** henchmen come calling. Good luck to whoever throws open the door to this independent group disgrace.

  • John Hudson

    When the possibility of “political party” activity emerged in OG’s and your website, I took the trouble to write to the electoral commission.

    It transpires that this body has no responsibility for policing the conduct of parties, campaign groups or candidates during election campaigns. Allegations of electoral offences should be made to the police.

    The Commission registers political parties and looks at party expenses. It is not in a position to police the organisation of groups of candidates while campaigning and if candidates share the cost of campaign materials this should be declared by each candidate.

    I was surprised that any cabal, group, gang, call it what you will, can “combine” pre election with a view to forming a group post election without any elector being required to be made aware of this intention. Such is our democracy. I suppose it rests on the integrity, transparency and honesty of those involved.

    In my case, I was faced with a choice of an “Independent” Candidate (IPG member) and a no name candidate. I would have liked to have been aware that the no name one was being actively supported by the outgoing and continuing independent group.

    It is a fact that the use of council (our) resources for electioneering purposes is unlawful, and in this respect, if this has occurred they, whoever they are, have overstepped the mark and those involved can be suspended/disqualified from office.

  • Barrie

    Just seen your website for the first time. Keep up the good work, along with Old Grumpy.

  • JohnTar

    Surely, Jacob, the currently serving Councillors (two spring immediately to mind), who effectively changed political party after the 2008 elections, joining up with the IPG even though they had declared their intent to stand as Labour Party members – and were elected by their constituents as such – WERE acting illegally?

    The information that you hold that proves that they were guilty of allowing themselves to be groomed for this change of allegiance PRIOR to the local elections, surely indicates that electoral malfeasance has occurred? And surely they must answer to some overarching political authority for this duping of the electorate?

    …Or am I so very naive in regard to the control that supervisory and rule-making bodies have over our elected representatives?

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