By Matthew Barrett
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Many Conservative activists are well aware of the hypocritical and dirty campaigns run by Lib Dems in local elections. A particularly controversial campaign was run for a by-election they won by 23 votes yesterday in Kingston-upon-Thames.
In Kingston, whose MP is the Lib Dem Energy and Culture Secretary Ed Davey, Lib Dem leaflets boasted “It’s always a straight fight here in Grove Ward”. The "unknown Conservative" described in the leaflet was Adrian Amer, who is gay.
Following the announcement of the narrow Lib Dem victory, Ben Summerskill, Chief Executive of gay rights group Stonewall, tweeted: "Shocking news coming in about things whispered on doorsteps in Kingston Council by-election". Matthew Sephton, Chairman of LGBTory, the Conservative Party’s LGBT group, said:
"I am shocked to hear the allegations of homophobic campaigning in this week’s Kingston by-election and I urge the Liberal Democrats to look into this matter further. Talk of a ‘straight fight’ or a ‘straight choice’ in such a campaign is at best insensitive and at worst a poor veil for blatent prejudice."
Lib Dem activists are usually well aware of their party's history. Many would be aware, for example, of the homophobic campaign run against Peter Tatchell at the Bermondsey by-election in 1983, in which the now-Deputy Leader of the Lib Dems, Simon Hughes, also presented voters with "a straight choice" between himself and the gay Tatchell. This by-election is just another example of how dirty and underhand the Lib Dems can be when they're in a tight election.