Burnham-On-Sea’s Liberal Democrat parliamentary candidate Tessa Munt has strongly rejected claims that a controversial poster campaign being waged against the town’s MP is ‘a front for the Liberal Democrats’.
The leaflets – which accuse MP David Heathcoat-Amory of “failing our democracy” – are being distributed across the area by Power 2010, a pressure group funded by the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust, which also held a demonstration outside Wells Conserative HQ, as pictured, on Sunday (March 28th).
Mr Heathcoat-Amory appeared on the BBC’s Politics Show on Sunday when he said that Power 2010 is “a front for the Liberal Democrats” and that it is making “negative, inaccurate and partisan attacks”.
But Tessa Munt told Burnham-On-Sea.com on Monday: “I reject the assertion that Power 2010 is a Lib Dem front absolutely. The local Lib Dems are running a campaign to win here. My only contact with Power 2010 has been to answer its questionnaire on its five priorities for the next Parliament, which I assume it sent to every candidate, which would have included Mr Heathcoat-Amory.”
“It is up to Mr Heathcoat-Amory to demonstrate how ‘negative, inaccurate and partisan’ Power 2010’s comments are by publicising his personal views, his response to Power 2010’s questionnaire and his voting record during the last Parliament.”
“My understanding is that the Joseph Rowntree Reform Trust has given money to the Liberal Democrats, Conservatives and Labour in order to encourage diversity (more women and more ethnic minority representation) and to promote the agenda for reform in Parliament.”
“Certainly, of the six MPs identified by Power 2010, the ‘beneficiaries’ of any change at the next election would nominally be two new Conservative MPs, two new Labour MPs and two new Lib Dem MPs. However, three of the seats are very safely held (the Conservative ones in Shipley and Shrewsbury) and one Labour seat (Glasgow South).”
Mr Heathcoat-Amory has hit back, saying: “Power 2010 alleges that I block democratic reform and attack civil liberties. This is untrue. I have constantly stood for personal freedom, limited government and parliamentary rights against rule from Brussels.”
“The Power 2010 campaign is exclusively funded by the Joseph Rowntree Trust, which has given nearly £5m to the Liberal Democrats and whose director is contributing to a book called ‘Why Vote Liberal Democrat?’.”
“This campaign is therefore a front for the Liberal Democrats. If the campaign was really about democracy, it would ask why some MPs and parties broke their clear election promise to support a referendum on the EU Treaty. But of course that would embarrass the Liberal Democrats, so it is not included.”