Tory election candidate slammed for 'pretending' to be Labour and Reform

Tory election candidate slammed for 'pretending' to be Labour and Reform

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Robert Largan, the Conservative politician hoping to be re-elected in Derbyshire's High Peak constituency in July’s general election, has received widespread condemnation online after posting campaign material which people claim has him ‘pretending’ to be the candidate for rival parties.

Largan, who has already been criticised in the past over ‘green’ leaflets and using the name of a real local newspaper for his “fake” newspaper leaflets, took to Twitter/X on Saturday to claim “so many Labour voters have told me they’re going to vote for me, because they want to keep me as their local MP”.

He added: “There have been so many that I’m launching a new Labour for Largan club.”

The Tory then doubled down on the stunt, branded “totally pathetic” by one social media user, by sharing one with the text “Reform for Robert”.

However in both graphics, albeit in incredibly small print, it’s noted that the communications are “promoted by Jason Mcleod on behalf of Robert Largan, of High Peak Conservatives, 1a Hardwick Mount, Buxton, SK17 6PP”.

This is known as the imprint, regulated by the Electoral Commission, which must state details “identifying the person or organisation who paid” for a particular campaign material.

Both URLs linked in Largan’s posts direct to a form on his website which – if a box at the bottom is ticked – allows for the Conservative Party to contact individuals “about local issues, campaigns and opportunities to get involved”.

The tweets have since been condemned as “desperate” and “misleading”, with many calling on the Electoral Commission to take action:

Just to be clear, the Labour candidate for High Peak is Jon Pearce, and Catherine Cullen is standing for Reform UK.

In a statement, a spokesman for Robert Largan said: "As Mr Largan’s social media posts and website make abundantly clear, large numbers of traditional Labour voters have been contacting him to tell him they plan to vote for him, despite him being a Conservative candidate. The same goes for Reform supporters.

"This is because of Mr Largan’s strong record of delivery in the High Peak. Therefore, supporters clubs of traditional Labour and Reform voters have been set up, to allow people to tell Mr Largan that they’re supporting him.

"These are called Labour for Largan and Reform for Robert. Such supporters clubs are not a new phenomenon.

“It is worth pointing out that all of Mr Largan’s election leaflets clearly state that he is the Conservative candidate and are in full compliance with electoral law. He is very well known in the High Peak as the local Conservative candidate. His name will appear on the ballot paper as the Conservative candidate. Nobody voting in the High Peak could possibly be confused on this point. Those claiming otherwise appear to have a very low opinion of the people of High Peak.”

Elsewhere, the Electoral Commission told indy100 in a statement: "When it comes to campaigning, the Commission is responsible for ensuring that campaign material by parties and campaigners includes information to identify the person or organisation which has caused it to be published. This is known as an imprint.

"Our remit does not extend to the content or style of campaign material. This is not subject to regulation by any UK body.

"The digital imprint regime gives voters more information about who is trying to reach them online, including campaigners and political parties. Voters should check for an imprint if they have concerns about the source of material.

"We encourage all candidates to consider how voters will understand their campaign materials."

On Saturday evening, Derbyshire Police issued a statement via Twitter/X in which it confirmed it had "received a number of messages in relation to claims of election fraud, raised due to concerns around marketing material".

"An incident has been created and will be reviewed," the force added.

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