Oliver Dowden complains of Labour and Lib Dem ‘electoral pact’ – but there’s one small problem

Oliver Dowden complains of Labour and Lib Dem ‘electoral pact’ – but there’s one small problem

Related video: Oliver Dowden plays down chances of PM receiving more Partygate fines

BBC News

With this year’s local elections just days away, culture secretary turned Tory party chairman Oliver Dowden is a bit concerned about a reported “electoral pact” between Labour and the Liberal Democrats.

In a letter to Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer, Mr Dowden alleges the rumoured plans “deny voters a proper democratic choice”, but appears to forget what happened in the 2019 general election.

Back then, Nigel Farage stood down 317 Brexit Party candidates in 2019 to help the Conservatives deliver Brexit. The former Ukip leader also claimed he was offered a peerage just days before announcing his decision.

Describing the decision as a ‘unilateral Leave alliance’, Mr Farage said at the time his party would “concentrate our total effort into all the seats that are held by the Labour Party, who have completely broken their manifesto pledge in 2017 to respect the result of the referendum".

Meanwhile Conservative party leader Boris Johnson had told Sky News his party had “absolutely note” done a deal with the Brexit Party.

OK, so even if there wasn’t a pact, we only need to cast our minds back to 2010 to find another example – when then-PM David Cameron formed a coalition with Nick Clegg’s Liberal Democrats.

Sign up to our free Indy100 weekly newsletter

Nevertheless, Mr Dowden decided to write to Sir Keir on Saturday expressing his concerns about the local elections.

He said: “I note that in the southwest, you are standing candidates in 61 per cent of seats compared to 97 per cent in 2018. In the southeast there is a similar pattern with Labour standing candidates in 88 per cent of seats compared to 99 per cent in 2018.

“By comparison, the Liberal Democrats – a much smaller party than Labour – are standing in 77 per cent of seats in the southeast and 87 per cent of seats in the southwest.

“In the north of England it appears the Liberal Democrats are returning the favour. In the northeast they are standing in just 56 per cent of seats, down from 78 per cent four years ago, Labour is however standing in 99 per cent of seats in the area.”

Describing the shifts as “far too substantial to be a mere coincidence”, Mr Dowden listed three questions for Sir Keir to answer, including why the Labour leader has “attempted to conceal this from voters”.

The leader of the opposition is yet to comment publicly on the letter, but Twitter has been all too keen to point out what happened just three years ago:

And Mr Dowden wasn’t the only one to be mocked for decrying a supposed “pact” from Labour.

On Sunday, Byline Times political editor Adam Bienkov pointed out the Daily Mail ran the headline “Stand down, Nigel” in 2019, only to complain of a “secret election pact to stitch up Boris” in the paper this weekend.

Have your say in our news democracy. Click the upvote icon at the top of the page to help raise this article through the indy100 rankings.

The Conversation (0)