Sunday, April 11, 2010

Labour Must Reap What They Have Sown

On the way to Sky three friends phoned me to talk about the Labour cancer leaflet. All three had partners who have suffered from cancer. One of them sadly died a few years ago. Two of my friends seemed close to tears as their anger about this leaflet transformed itself into raaw emotion. "How could they do this?" said one. Another said it was an exaggerated version of the War of Jennifer's Ear, which you may remember from the 1992 campaign.

Also on the way I got a phone call from the Sky producer asking if there was anything I had seen in the papers I particularly wanted to talk about, so I mentioned to Sunday Times story on the cancer leaflets. However, when I got there I was told that since Labour had denied targeting people in any way (do they think we are fools?) they didn't want to talk about that in my slot. We'll see about that, I thought to to myself. In the end I managed to bring it into my final answer but more briefly than I would have liked.

There's little doubt that this leaflet has backfired in a major way, and deservedly so. I'd be horrified if my own party indulged in this sort of scaremongering among a vulnerable group of people. And judging from this comment from Anthony on the previous thread, Labour supporters are none too happy about either.

My wife (or I) have not (yet?) received such a postcard. We are (or maybe were) lifelong Labour supporters and voters, diverted recently from politics and all things by her two year tackling of an advanced cancer with, in our case,absolutely excellent NHS medical care. Our instincts are all anti-Tory and pro-labour values but ...

We surprised ourselves with the strength of our reaction to the story when we saw it first in the Sunday Times this morning. If our reaction is in any sense typical, Labour should want to explain and rebut or recant or something - or just apologise -very forcefully, very quickly.

And Cancer Research UK, who share the comms agency according to the story, will need to move fast to reassure donors like I and my family that they have not sold any data-base to Labour (or any political party).
He followed it up by saying...

What upset me and my (cancer-suffering) wife so much was the idea that Labour people would have consciously chosen to do this with such insensitivity and such use of scare tactics. What is worrying is that it is people in the middle of working for labour with commitment and zeal, who display such lack of insight and understanding. Since I started angrily commenting above and here, my previous labour voting wife has declared this to be the last nudge in pushing her to vote Lib Dem (never done before....) - this in a constituency that was lost by labour to Lib Dem in the last election in the seat but one ....


Let them reap what they have sown.

I wonder what Labour MP John Heppell thinks of it. This brave man stood down from Parliament last week in order to care for his wife who his suffering from cancer. I suspect he wouldbe appalled.

More from Dizzy HERE.

UPDATE: Andrew Lansley has issued a statement...
"It is shameful that the Labour Party, knowing that we are the only party that is going to increase investment in the NHS, have decided to deliberately scare patients and misrepresent what we have said. I’m actually rather shocked that they are trying to target breast cancer patients and alarm them by making up stories about what the Conservative Party would do. I think Andy Burnham, the Health Secretary, should write to every woman Labour sent these cards to and apologise and withdraw these claims."

36 comments:

Irene said...

So if labour deny something that's the end of it - really!

I was so glad you managed to say something about it - well done.

Moriarty said...

So let me get this straight. A party with a history of ruthless and self-serving mendacity can shut down any potentially embarrassing story, can preclude all discussion in the MSM, simply by issuing a denial?

That's possibly even more outrageous than the original story.

DisgruntledNun said...

Thank you for bringing this to my attention on the BBC last night, Iain - It's likely that I would have missed it otherwise.

I had a very lucky escape in 2007 - I didn't need any treatment beyond preventative surgery, so i've no idea if i'm going to recieve one of these leaflets, but if I do i'll taking it personally to my Labour PPC to register my disgust.

Politics is often an ugly game, but this is just a new low in Labour's desperate attempt to hold on a little longer.

Eddie said...

Iain, it seems that so far there are few media organisations that wish to discuss this matter.

I cannot see a mention of it on the BBC website, or on any of the other newspaper websites, other than The Times.

When I heard Burnham taking about the donor data debacle, and that it came to light last year, I wondered why they chose today to announce it.

Could it be that it is a smokescreen, serious as the matter is?

As an aside, is it time for somebody to start an analysis of the BBC Election front page headlines / photos, we seem to have been inundated all week with pictures of Brown, and headlines that are negative to the Conservatives, even when it is a Conservative announcement. In such circumstances the headline has been along the lines of "[Labour Minister] attacks new Conservative announcement about..."

Dorian Smith said...

Even labourlist links to the story and yet the BBC doesn't mention it online - currently.

norman said...

Interesting observation by Andrew Sparrow in Guardian:

"There's some titillating lobby gossip in the Sunday Times election write-through.

According to one Labour MP, even Ed Balls, the indefatigable schools secretary, privately thinks the game is up.

During a drink with colleagues in a Westminster bar, Balls expressed gloom about Labour's prospects. "He basically said the Tories were going to win," said a Labour source.

Some ministers are even said to be making plans to take a break in the sun during the unusually long period between election day and the reconvening of parliament on 18 May.

"I know many ministers who have booked holidays in May. They certainly do not believe they will still be in office," said the MP
====================

pete-s said...

If the story is true, then THIS IS the story of the election. It means that Labour are prepared to break ANY Law to retain power. It would mean that they have driven a coach and horses through the Data Protection Act.

David said...

Vince Cable mentioned this on Tv just now.

Dual Citizen said...

It's made the BBC website. And look who they've given the credit to!

Mr Cable rounds off by saying that if stories are true that Labour is targeting cancer patients with leaflets claiming their care would suffer under a Tory government, then it is a "very grubby" practice. Labour strongly deny targeting patients.

Anoneumouse said...

This scandal is representative of the real CANCER in our society

http://www.cancercampaigns.org.uk/ourcampaigns/commit/

Michael J said...

How low can labour go!

This is the lowest thing I have seen in politics.

I makes steeling (expenses) from the tax payer seem so minor.

Jess The Dog said...

It's not being ignored as the Sunday Times covered it in the first place...suspect this is developing and further digging is needed. A complaint to the ICO about this mailshot will escalate the issue znd this will probably happen on Monday.

Michael J said...

I would love to see Mandy try to get out of this one. This is so, so low down and dirty.

Well done Iain, but how do we get this on to sky and BBC etc

Alan Douglas said...

Poster :

LABOUR - a cancer in the body politic

Alan Douglas

titus-aduxas said...

So, now we know what Charlie Whelan has been up to in No. 10.

Has all the hallmarks of McPoison on it, too.

Not a sheep said...

Labour elements do not believe that the Data Protection Act applies to them, they see no distinction between the Labour party and the UK state; after all 'the Labour party is the political wing of the British people'.

If the Labour government are kicked out then a full investigation of their activities needs to be launched and the 'guilty' parties then tried, found guilty and shot for treason - I am speaking only slightly tongue in cheek.

Chestcracker said...

How did they get what are supposed to be confidential records?
The leaflet itself is disgusting but to use names from some database is unethical and possibly illegal.
This together with the donor cockup shows that IT projects and this government are a toxic combination and that Labour really cannot be trusted with the NHS.
As a recent article in the BMJ shows, the NHS will be run for the benefit of the public service unions and not patients.

Dino Fancellu said...

http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/election_2010/8614075.stm

Peter said...

Lets hope it comes up in the Leaders debate on Thursday. One of the sub themes is the NHS.

Dino Fancellu said...

http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/election/article-1265173/Labour-urged-apologise-cancer-leaflet-row.html

John said...

Lansley should be more than "rather shocked". Where are his comments about insensitivity, and about data protection, for a start?

Nigel said...

Actually, it is on the BBC website, but to give some indication of their news priorities, here are the "Election 2010" headlines:

>Page last updated at 12:37 GMT, Sunday, 11 April >2010 13:37 UK
>'No big new spending' from Labour
>Labour's election manifesto will contain "no big >new spending commitments", Ed Miliband says.
>LIVE: Text and video
>Day at-a-glance: 11 April
>Cancer leaflet apology urged
>Clegg warns of cuts unrest

And no mention of it in their rundown of the Sunday newspapers' election headlines - which are uniformly bland.

I'm not entirely sure that it's bias - just that the BBC seem to think that there role is to be unquestioning stenographers for the party spokesman, and as the Tories are less blatantly dishonest, this comes across as bias.

Dino Fancellu said...

http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/election-2010/7577712/Labour-used-personal-data-to-send-cancer-patients-post-about-Conservative-health-policies.html

Dino Fancellu said...

http://www.spectator.co.uk/coffeehouse/5904338/dirtier-tactics.thtml

David Anthony said...

What's scariest and most crass is that Labour are trawling our personal medical records for their own political ends..

Dino Fancellu said...

And you wonder why Labour are so keen to get all of our medical records computerized on one central database...

Dino Fancellu said...

http://www.mirror.co.uk/news/top-stories/2009/09/30/i-m-alive-because-labour-believes-in-nhs-115875-21711100/

Hmmm, so she isn't as partisan as she'd like to claim perhaps? Just sayin'.

Dick Puddlecote said...

Wot anoneumouse said.

Roger Thornhill said...

"that they have not sold any data-base to Labour (or any political party)."

Two points

1. Sold? Expect more of the same as the Database State kicks its jackboot through all our front doors.

2. Expect the selling to occur from the State TO organisations. All in the name of deficit reduction, natch.

And people trust Labour?

titus-aduxas said...

In Scotland, Labour are now inviting convicted criminals to fund-raisers. This one will fit in nicely to Labour - he was jailed for his part in extortion and intimidation.

freddo41 said...

"As an aside, is it time for somebody to start an analysis of the BBC Election front page headlines / photos, we seem to have been inundated all week with pictures of Brown, and headlines that are negative to the Conservatives, even when it is a Conservative announcement."

You're looking for Biased-BBC and BeebBiasCraig.

JuliaM said...

"That's possibly even more outrageous than the original story."

No. There's no 'possibly' about it. It IS more outrageous.

Dino Fancellu said...

http://www.thesun.co.uk/sol/homepage/news/2927729/Labour-slammed-for-cancer-flyers.html

Dino Fancellu said...

http://www.guardian.co.uk/politics/2010/apr/11/labour-cancer-postcards-vince-cable

http://itn.co.uk/c936fcb16ce2f8ea2e509c94af9b2a12.html

Savonarola said...

I thought you made a v strong closing comment with your direct condemnation of the leaflet. Well done.

Guy Herbert said...

@freddo41:

Ah, yes. Well the website doesn't have any actual legal requirement of political balance, not being 'broadcast'. They don't make a fuss about this.

It is also much less vigilantly edited than usual BBC news, frequently printing departmental and government press-releases fairly unquestioningly on the button of the embargo; nevertheless the habit has arisen that it is used as a reference source by minor media and other BBC assets. Which has made it a favourite conduit for official/Labour announcements, to get stuff out undiluted.

For years I had officially to complain about half the stories on my specialist subjects, because the Home Office was treated as a simple factual source rather than a generator of self-serving, and frequently partisan, propaganda.