LabourList says accurately quoting TheyWorkForYou = “blatant lies”

TheyWorkForYou says of John Leech, Lib Dem MP for Manchester Withington, “Voted strongly for laws to stop climate change” (source).

John Leech put out a leaflet saying he voted for climate change laws. Fair enough you might think. After all, that claim is backed up by a widely-respected independent website which bases its descriptions of MPs’ voting records directly on the official Hansard voting records.

But LabourList’s response?

To pick up on the leaflet:

In it he claims to have voted for “Climate Change Laws”

And to say of this claim (and one other in the leaflet) that this is a case of:

blatant lies

Given that the wording in the leaflet is directly and unambiguously verified by TheyWorkForYou, and indeed is simply repeating a conclusion they have reported, then if John Leech is blatantly lying, so is the TheyWorkForYou team.

Or that LabourList have, shall we say, gone a bit eccentric in deciding that TheyWorkForYou are a bunch of blatant liars.

Ironically, it’s only recently that a post was published on that site which hit on the head the problem with these sorts of attack posts that dissolve so quickly when examined:

My main concern is that, rather than make any attempt at restraint, many posts are a lot of spleen venting or Tory bashing without any new information or even, in many cases, a fully cohesive argument.

Quite. Describing something directly substantiated by TheyWorkForYou as a blatant lie shows a spectacular failure of judgement.

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  • ConHome and LibDem voice will discuss internal party matters and don’t spend most of their time attacking the opposition.

    LabourList on the other hand seems to spend a disproportionate amount of time attacking the Tories.

  • Mark given the Labour List article was written by Michael Joslin – a Bennite student at Manchester Metro University from leafy Surrey I wouldn’t give it the time of day.

    Mr Joslin’s dotty political views and lack of judgement were a delight for us in Kingston where he was a member of the ‘youth Parliament’. He was last seen down here staggering around the 2006 election count in a state of some distress. His attire was distinctly bizarre as he was using a tie as a sweatband around his forehead. We were not sure his emotional state was externally induced or was a result of the shock that his two ‘mentors’ 2005 Labour PPC Nick Parrot and (more bizarrely) 2005 Tory PPC, Kevin Davis, had both lost their safe council wards to the Lib Dems.

    You can read more about his peculiar views here:

    But to see him emerging as a Manc Labour loyalist will no doubt add several thousand to John Leeches majority…

  • “Large gangs of young people roam the streets and unfortunately things happen that shouldn’t. You can’t blame them;”

    What a complete tit, as if boredom is an excuse for causing trouble.

  • If you look on the Public Whip website you can clearly see that John Leech didn’t vote in the Second or Third Readings of the Climate Change Bill.

    I think the point is that Leech is refusing to answer basic questions which would absolve him from guilt.

  • David Boothroyd 9th Apr '09 - 9:39am

    Theyworkforyou lumps together many different votes to give its classification. The problem is that many of the votes are not directly on the subject at hand, and they fail to take account of either Parliamentary procedure or of the realities of politics.

    The best example is the Iraq war vote in 2003. Running up to the main vote on 18 March were many previous votes which were on whether to approve government policy. Government policy at that stage was to keep a military option open but not to commit to it, so for a Labour MP to support government policy at that stage was not to support war. On 18 March the anti-war amendment was voted on first, and voted down, and then the government motion was voted on. Many Labour MPs who had supported the anti-war amendment then abstained on the main motion, because the fight was lost.

    If an MP had voted with the government in previous votes, voted to support the anti-war amendment on 18 March and then abstained, Theyworkforyou has them as mostly pro-war. This is wrong. Quoting this as saying the MP is pro-war would be a lie.

    Fundamentally theyworkforyou’s problem is that it’s written by people who have no real interest in politics.

  • David, I don’t understand your comment. Looking at a random Labour MP (David Kidney MP) who “voted with the government in previous votes, voted to support the anti-war amendment on 18 March and then abstained”, Theyworkforyou has them as “Voted a mixture of for and against the Iraq war”, not “mostly pro-war”?

    “Quoting this as saying the MP is pro-war would be a lie” indeed, plus it says it’s their voting record, not their opinion. Many Conservatives say they are pro-gay rights, and I’m sure they are, but eg the three-line whip Iain Duncan Smith imposed on allowing gay couples to adopt children back in 2002 means their voting record says otherwise, except for the 8 rebellers.

  • I don’t know about the analysis of John Leech’s position but David is right about the major flaws in They Work For You’s analysis.

    This came up a while back with regard to Alan Beith’s voting record on gay rights where he is ranked as “moderately in favour”

    This is based on two “disagrees” one of which is to extend civil partnerships to siblings – something which has nothing to do with sexuality (be it homo or hetero).

    There rating is very skewed by the ranking of equalising the age of consent and allowing gay couples to adopt as “Less Important” votes. An assessment which at best is highly subjective.

    A system of giving a shorthand rating of an MPs record on particular positions is useful – but it also needs to be accurate.

  • Miller 2.0 – so where do you cross the line from ‘a naive extension of state power’ to full blown Wedgwood Bennery?

    ID cards? Banning peaceful protest? Going to war without recourse to international law? Assisting in torture? Summary arrest of trainspotters?

    Blair and Brown have already extended the state’s power beyond reason or legitimacy in a democracy. Would full blown Bennites go a lot further?

  • David Boothroyd 9th Apr '09 - 1:25pm

    Theyworkforyou list five divisions in their measurement of whether MPs “voted to support laws to stop climate change”. They all relate to the Climate Change Bill; two of them are the second reading and third reading.

    The other three are amendments debated at report stage. The first was new clause 11 moved by Greg Barker which would have allowed the Secretary of State to specify how new power stations should comply with the act; it was targeted at new coal-fired power stations. The second was new clause 14 moved by Steve Webb which would have required an annual report on emissions from international aviation and shipping (but not insisted on any changes in policy). The third was an omnibus vote on a large number of government amendments at the interruption of proceedings.

    John Leech voted only on the first two amendments, which were largely party line votes. He did not vote to approve the principle of the Bill nor to approve it in its final form. The second amendment did not tighten up the law in any real degree, and it’s possible that the first would have had no effect either (arguments about clean coal technology are for another time).

  • If Leech only voted in favour of a couple of amendments, and never voted for (or against) the Bill as a whole, then you can make a case for saying that he’s never actually “voted for ‘Climate Change Laws'” at all – whatever may say.

  • This affair does not put the Lib Dem MP in a good light at all.

    This is where I would like to see some action from the party leader.

    If an MP cannot explain his votes to a member of the public, then Mr Clegg should consider a private word.

    Accountability is a pain but it is better for democracy as a whole if MP can answer simple questions.

    Is there some party rule which prevents Mr Clegg from taking action?

    I would like to think that people like Sarah Tether would do better at answering questions

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