We revealed how letters claiming to be from Mike Smithson, a “polling and elections expert” and sent by the Liberal Democrat party, advised: “The Liberal Democrats have the best chance to win seats from the Conservatives, keeping them from a majority.” – Only these letters have been sent to constituencies such as Chipping Barnet, where the LibDems are on a fraction of the votes of Labour and the Conservatives who are neck and neck.
At the last election in 2017 there were barely 300 votes between Brexit-championing Tory minister Theresa Villiers and Labour’s Emma Whysall, with the LibDems barely managing 12% of either party’s votes. So the only effect of the lies in the letter sent to voters all over the constituency under the guise of honest advice was to spend a lot of the LibDem leafleting budget on sowing uncertainty for opposition voters and handing the Conservatives a majority.
When challenged, the Liberal Democrats told us: “The letter reflected data that was correct at the time of printing. As is stated repeatedly in the letter, in these constituencies, Liberal Democrat success depends on Conservative voters lending us their vote.”
This is another blatant lie, as at no point could the letter have reflected correct data. The seat has stayed a two horse race by a long shot since 2017. The latest YouGov MRP polling has Labour and the Conservatives neck and neck at 41% in this constituency.
Since we revealed the expensive and underhand letter campaign that would only ensure Boris Johnson has a comfortable majority, many voters all over the country responded, revealing they had been sent the same dishonest campaign literature. Voters in seats where Labour is within a whisker of beating Conservative candidates and the LibDems don’t get a look in were outraged at a campaign that could disenfranchise voters keen to stop a Conservative majority.
Crucially, the deceitful letters have no mention of the fact that “Polling and Elections Expert” Mike Smithson who they appear to be from has stood for office as a Liberal Democrat.
Smithson did not respond to our requests for a comment but he has now put a statement on his Political Betting website which suggests he did not even know which seats the letters purporting to offer tactical voting analysis of the seat were sent to.
This is Mike Smithson’s excuse:
Misleading the public
Worryingly, not everyone who received these letters saw through them and binned them as many voters told us they had.
Transparency campaigner Gina Miller has set up Remain United’s tactical voting website using national and constituency polling with large sample sizes and polling of tactical voting intent too, updated throughout the election ( For more on the methodology). She called the letters “extraordinarily scandalous and misleading to the public.”
Gina Miller said that Remain United had been contacted by members of the public who had received such letters with false information and accused Remain United of lying and dishonesty in recomending Labour in seats where Labour has a good chance of actually beating Conservative candidates, as they had believed the dodgy cut and paste advice.
According to Remain United’s latest survey, 45% of voters who favour remaining in the EU or a more orderly Brexit than Boris Johnson’s hard Brexit are considering tactical voting, and genuine, informed tactical voting could well stop Boris Johnson’s predicted majority.
“People have to make up their mind up whichever way they like, but it must be on solid, robust information,” Gina Miller told us.
The dodgy LibDem letters we saw namecheck Best For Britain and their tactical voting website getvoting.org . Yet Best for Britain’s and indeed every tactical voting advice site we checked had very differing advice to the cut and paste LibDem letters we have been forwarded.
When contacted, Best For Britain were shocked and appalled to find out that they had been named in the LibDem’s misleading leaflet.
The Liberal Democrats refused to answer questions about how many constituencies received similar letters and why there is no mention of the “polling and elections expert” being a Liberal Democrat.
We have received reports of the letter with its dodgy advice being sent to constituencies all over the UK. In seats such as Altrincham and Sale West (Tory 26,933 votes, Labour 20,507 and LibDem 4,051 in 2017), Bristol North West (Labour 27,400, Tory 22,639, LibDem 2,814) , Chipping Barnet (Tory 25,679, Labour 25,326, LibDem 3,012) , Durham ( Labour 26,772, Tory 14,408, LibDem 4,787 ) , Kensington (Labour 16,333, Tory 16,313, LibDem 4,724), Warrington South (Labour 29,994, Tory 27,445, LibDem 3,339 ), Warwick and Leamington ( Labour 25,227, Tory 24,021, LibDem 2,810) and York Outer (Tory 29,356, Labour 21,067, LibDem 5,910), letters such as those below have been sent. Words are almost identical.
The letters either say the local contest is just between Conservatives and Liberal Democrats or between Labour and the Liberal Democrats. What the letters below have in common however is that this is not true at all. These were sent to seats where to stop a Tory majority opposition voters have to vote Labour.
In some of these constituencies the margin is tiny, such as Kensington MP Emma Dent Coad who won in the last general election in 2017 by just 30 votes. Such misleading information if believed could swing the seat back to the Conservatives quite easily. Liberal Democrats don’t stand a chance in the seats we received complaints from – seats where such dishonest letters can only confuse voters who want to stop a Conservative majority and ensure that happens.
The Electoral Commission who received a copy of this letter told The London Economic as long as there was a mention somewhere on the literature in the tiny small print of the Liberal Democrats they were powerless to intervene however dishonest the letter. Though they referred to a warning by Office of National Statistics for parties to observe accuracy over facts and staistics in their campaign literature.
The Liberal Democrats have alreasy been panned for sending leaflets to voters with fake bar charts showing the party as the likeliest to defeat Conservative contenders in two horse races which are actually two horse races between the Labour Party and the Tories. A local newspaper is now threatening to sue the LibDems for passing off campaign literature as voters’ local paper.
Andrew Gwynne MP, Labour’s national campaign co-ordinator, said: “The Lib Dems have no credibility and should apologise for trying to mislead voters.
“The last time Jo Swinson and her party were as close to the Tories as these charts claim, they were in government voting for the bedroom tax, privatising the NHS, tripling tuition fees and cutting taxes for the super-rich and big business.”