Gloucestershire Police reverse their decision and say that leafleting by individual political party activists is illegal

Further to our article yesterday, Gloucestershire Police have now reversed their position and have said:

On further review of information, we can clarify that the Government has stated this activity does not constitute an exemption in law and that it does not support door to door campaigning or leafleting by individual political party activists.

We will engage with any party or individual that adopts this approach to campaigning and encourage them to seek alternative methods of public contact.

Individuals could be liable to fixed penalty notices if they persist.

I can confirm we have spoken to the councillor involved in this case and warned him that a continuation of leaflet dropping could result in a fine.

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22 Comments

  • nigel hunter 3rd Feb '21 - 2:18pm

    As was stated £400 cost to produce leaflet £100 fine .Might be worth delivering.

  • nigel hunter 3rd Feb ’21 – 2:18pm….As was stated £400 cost to produce leaflet £100 fine .Might be worth delivering……

    Great idea! So those who can afford the £10,000 fine should just go on organising ‘raves’?
    Or do you, like another poster, equate ‘leaflet delivery’ with the stand made by Rosa Parks?

  • David Evans 3rd Feb '21 - 3:33pm

    I’m sorry to ask it, Nigel but have you thought this through or are you just acting as a Devil’s Advocate?

    The Upside
    We get a leaflet delivered that lets local people know we want them to know

    The Downside
    1) Adverse publicity for the local party, driven by our local opponents.
    2) Adverse publicity nationally for the party, driven by our national enemies.
    3) Multiple fines if there are multiple deliverers.
    4) Multiple fines for the same deliverer.

    Anyone else got any points to add?

  • Lorenzo Cherin 3rd Feb '21 - 3:41pm

    Thank you to my colleagues above for the refuting of the absurd comments preceding them .

    Some in all parties are so blinkered they defy reason.

    Quaint to think of leaflets as so important, in normal society.

    Appalling in a situation like our society experiences now.

    We need a restatement of values and the leadership to go with it, both more lacking than not in this pandemic.

  • Lorenzo – but when the law* is an ass …?

    The science is quite clear that there is no risk whatsoever in delivering leaflets – indeed it is permitted if it is ‘commercial’ i.e. paid-for by those with deep pockets.

    Hence this is a blatantly party-political move by the government, not actually supported even by the law (just the government’s ‘guidance’/interpretation – very much in the Tory party political interest). Unsurprising therefore that Gloucs police originally interpreted it differently.

    People can make their choices but Nigel (above) at least makes a reasonable point that should not be dismissed out of hand.

    *in fact not actually the law but the minister’s interpretation of it

  • Can’t think of a better way of allienating the public at this time that stuffing political leaflets through doors.

  • Graham Jeffs 3rd Feb '21 - 4:07pm

    Irritating and unfair as this may be (particularly compared to paid deliveries) I’m very aware that there is a much heightened level of anxiety out there – a lot more people are going to react negatively to leafleting at this moment in time.

    However, if these edicts remain in place after the end of, say, March then it should be possible to show that the government is creating an even more uneven playing field whilst not postponing the elections themselves. But that message would require a very vociferous level of messaging from national level down – focusing not simply on our disadvantage but the threat to the proper democratic processes.

    But don’t expect too many people to be interested. That’s why our democracy is a mess anyway.

  • It seems that leafletting is going to become illegal. Therefore it is not worth the risk of uniting Conservative and Labour uniting against us and spending the whole campaign on the defence by having to explain ourselves. The elections could be held in the autumn so any leaflets not yet printed should be date neutral.

  • John Marriott 3rd Feb '21 - 4:25pm

    A crazy idea with immense repercussions, causing lasting damage to the party’s image. In any case, are we really certain that local elections at least will actually take place?

  • Peter Watson 3rd Feb '21 - 5:12pm

    @Dominic “The science is quite clear that there is no risk whatsoever in delivering leaflets”
    Do you have a link or reference to that science?
    By which I don’t just mean evidence that the virus will only survive on paper for a few hours (not that that is particularly reassuring if the deliverer is infected), but evidence that there “is no risk whatsoever” of picking up or spreading the virus when a door-to-door deliverer touches door furniture, stands in a porch, enters and moves within a block of flats, etc.
    If so, I’m sure it would be very reassuring to those who have described in other threads the extra care they have to take with deliveries while shielding if you can confirm they needn’t worry about it.

  • James Moore 3rd Feb '21 - 5:16pm

    The rich man is allowed to leaflet by putting all his leaflets in the post.

    The poor man is banned from leafleting because he can’t afford to pay.

    Paid deliverers and the postal service can’t spread the virus. Volunteer deliverers can spread the virus and are an evil menace that must be stopped by the police.

    As a community, we’ve not only lost our political rights, we lost all sense of proportion and sanity.

  • Peter Watson 3rd Feb '21 - 6:07pm

    In all these threads there has been a depressing amount of hysteria and paranoia, but here’s a positive suggestion:

    Get out do some really useful volunteering, whether that’s becoming an NHS Volunteer Responder like Ed Davey and help with the vaccination program, or doing some of the great stuff for your neighbours suggested by the government e.g. “shop for food and medicine (online, or in person), deliver food and medicine, help with food banks and homeless services, work on a telephone support helpline” (https://www.gov.uk/volunteering/coronavirus-volunteering), or following some of the inspiring examples given by Paul Walter (https://www.libdemvoice.org/can-volunteering-be-safe-currently-63843.html).

    And wear your Lib Dem rosette (or get a bit more use out of your “Bullocks To Brexit” t-shirts) while doing it.

    Sensitively, drum up a bit of publicity in local media: a yellow army of activists out there representing the party but working for the community sounds much better than putting campaigning leaflets through doors.

    Everyone’s a winner!

  • I wonder how the ‘Zero Risk’ is affected when, not if, the leaflet distributor is visiting homes/apartments infected by the virus?
    Some on here remind me of Boris Johnson’s response* to criticism of his visit to an infected vaccine centre in Scotland..

    .*……………..Boris Johnson has defended visiting a Scottish vaccine plant despite a coronavirus outbreak at the site, saying “no one is going to stop me” visiting all parts of the UK.
    The prime minister was criticised by Scottish leaders including the first minister, Nicola Sturgeon, for his trip to Scotland last week at a time when only essential travel is permitted.
    The Daily Record reported that Johnson’s visit to the Valneva factory took place 24 hours after a public health investigation which found 14 coronavirus cases – about one in eight of the workforce. Valneva’s chief financial officer, David Lawrence, said Downing Street had been informed ahead of the trip.

  • James Morshead 3rd Feb '21 - 8:25pm

    So paid leaflet delivery is considered safe, but volunteer delivery is not. Uh-huh.

    So is there a way we could make our deliveries compliant with this ‘ruling’? Say:

    – Get urgent clarification of why this is the case, ie how Royal Mail et al can guarantee covid-safe devileries
    – Set up a volunteer delivery organisation to match this procedure
    – Possibly make it cross-party; not just for us but for any other similarly disenfranchised smaller parties
    – Charge local parties to cover liability insurance and a coffee afterwards
    – Get delivering leaflets with clear disclaimers on them, and strong arguments about how they tried to shut us up!

  • Paul Barker 4th Feb '21 - 10:18am

    The Police dont get to decide what is Legal or not, that is down to Parliament & The Courts.
    Clearly The Tories dont want to put forward Legislation, they would have to answer some of the awkward questions about Pizza Ads & there could still be legal challenges.
    There is a strong case for calling The Police Bluff in this case & Challenging any Fines in Court.
    There is a case for believing that for Us, right now, any publicity would be good Publicity. Our principal problem is that many Voters have forgotten that we exist.

    Once again I have to say that some of our problems stem from lack of belief in Our Party & Our Values, plus an excessive desire to be liked or, better still, not to be noticed at all. Humility is admirable in individuals but not in a Political Party.

  • Paul Barker 4th Feb ’21 – 10:18am……………..There is a strong case for calling The Police Bluff in this case & Challenging any Fines in Court.There is a case for believing that for Us, right now, any publicity would be good Publicity. Our principal problem is that many Voters have forgotten that we exist……….

    Why not advertise a ‘rave-up’ at Great George Street? That should get top billing on national news; all that publicity for just £10k..

  • Question for David Evans:
    I’m guessing you are the David Evans of Kendal, as there are quite a few DEs in the LDs, how are we campaigning there for the County elections in May?
    If I’m right you are closely involved in at least one division, by family connection, if not others in Tim’s constituency.
    No one seems to be proposing realistic solutions to winning campaigns without leaflets, we could do with them!
    Finally, thanks for your help some while back in a Winsford by-election.

  • @ Paul Barker “There is a strong case for calling The Police Bluff in this case & Challenging any Fines in Court”. Now…. given that Paul Barker is an advocate of ‘Flying the Flag’ with ‘paper’ (i.e. do nowt sit on a sofa !) candidates in normal times this is an interesting contribution.

    My view is that successful campaigning is a combination of not just hard work but of good judgement.

    Kamikaze tactics is no guarantee of long term survival and I don’t think it would commend itself to the good sense of the majority of the electorate. The police have enough to do without having to deal with low flying Lib Dems.

  • clive english 4th Feb '21 - 12:45pm

    The returning officer in Maidstone is of the view that collecting nomination signatures is illegal not sure how you hold an election with that interpretation

  • David Garlick 4th Feb '21 - 1:07pm

    Discussion is meaningless after the facts.
    It is a political decision.
    To continue would be an own goal whatever the justification .
    It will lose us both credibility and votes as the Conservatives (Big and little c) will make a meal of it in ‘their’ press etc.
    Stop it and make abig deal of doing so? Not sure it would help. Just stop it, move on and let it die away is my advice.

  • David Evans 4th Feb '21 - 1:55pm

    Andy Hyde, Thanks for remembering me. Winsford was a nice place to help out and you have a nice bunch of guys and gals that deserve support.

    Re Kendal, and without giving anything sensitive away to our enemies
    1) We are phenomenally lucky to have a Lib Dem MP. A great MP who provides a focus for almost everything we do.
    2) We are also phenomenally lucky to have a functioning Liberal Club – set up over a century ago by good Liberals and kept running ever since by successive generations of dedicated trustees and committee members. Something they handed on to us and we aim to hand on to the next generation of Lib Dems for safe keeping.
    3) We can raise funds which pay for our brilliant office staff – always overstretched and almost overrun with work, but who always are a cornerstone of what we do.
    4) We still control the local district council by a good majority. Councillors are a key interface with our community, but doing it under Covid is very difficult. However the County Council recently made a grab for power with a unitary proposal that they chose to send to DCLG.

    That is a big concern for so many reasons, dilution of democratic accountability through the loss of a proper local voice being one of the main ones.

    However, one thing is crystal clear. The Conservatives only asked for proposals from three counties – Somerset, North Yorkshire and Cumbria. Quite simply the Tories are using it to to undermine the Lib Dems in areas we are still strong. No proposals for Surrey, Sussex, Lincolnshire etc, just counties where we control some districts. They simply want to kill us.

    We know we are lucky in so many ways, but we try to support others where we can and at a personal level, Shirley and I try to get out to as many by-elections as we can to help good people like yourselves.

    If there is one message and key tip I would offer, it is that the Lib Dems have to play like a real team in order to survive. Anything that undermines our fellow Lib Dems anywhere has to be a battle for us all, and sometimes (in normal times) just getting out and doing a bit somewhere else for other Lib Dems is a great tonic.

    All the best.

  • David Evans,
    Thanks for your helpful reply, understand you have to not give away too much. We only have PCC elections which will be an awkward campaign given the health background.
    Good luck anyhow!

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