Published:
December 9, 2014
Conservatives deny 'dirty tricks phone campaign' accusations

The Conservative parliamentary candidate for Burnham-On-Sea has this week denied an accusation that a 'dirty tricks phone campaign' is being run in the Wells constituency ahead of next year's election.

Conservative activists are reportedly ringing voters in the Burnham area and pretending to be calling on behalf of MP Tessa Munt.

According to the Daily Mirror, the callers are asking voters if they want to see David Cameron or Ed Miliband as Prime Minister at the next election. All the calls appear to come from a Conservative Party number in Southend.

The issue was first featured on Burnham-On-Sea.com's discussion forums here earlier this autumn when two anonymous readers said they'd received the calls.

Tessa Munt said this week: "People here know who their MP is. The Tory candidate and those in Conservative HQ obviously take people here for fools. It's an insult to local people's intelligence and the Tory tricks have backfired."

But James Heappey, the Conservative parliamentary candidate, told Burnham-On-Sea.com: "The allegation is that volunteers working for me have been telephoning people in the Wells Constituency and claiming to be doing so on behalf of the MP. I can say categorically and without hesitation that this is not the case."

"The Lib Dems claim that these calls came from Southend-on-Sea. Any volunteers calling on my behalf – and there are hundreds of them – would be calling from their own homes here in Somerset or from my office in Shepton Mallet. In either case, they would be calling from local dialling codes that would be recognised by those receiving the calls."

"The Conservative Party nationally do have a call centre in Southend and the Lib Dems wrote to the Prime Minister in February to raise this exact complaint with him. Two weeks later, the Party Chairman, Grant Shapps, replied on the Prime Minister’s behalf to state that all those working in the call centre are trained to follow a script and that the script unambiguously refers to me as the local candidate."

"Nick Clegg’s staff have not suggested in their most recent attempts to gain media coverage on this issue that there have been any new complaints since February nor have they said how many complaints they had received in the first place. For the record, I have not received a single complaint on this issue nor have the local Lib Dems made any attempt to contact me or my office directly."

"Over the next five months, I will continue to make my case to this community by talking about my ideas for our local area and the positive things I would do if elected to represent you in Westminster. The General Election on 7th May is a serious business; not only must our community choose its next MP but our country will need to decide whether it is to be led by David Cameron or Ed Miliband."

Tessa Munt wrote to Prime Minister David Cameron earlier this year, stating: "I am writing to express my deep concern about the election tactics your party is conducting in my constituency. I have received a good number of complaints from my constituents about telephone calls… the calls are identical and open with the caller stating they are calling on behalf of your MP. I am sure you would not condone or encourage such underhand methods in order to obtain information from the electorate."

 


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