What short memories some Labour MPs have!
"We're being outgunned by slick Tory machine, says Labour's Andrew Slaughter" ran the headline in yesterday's Times. "I think the way they promote Conservative candidates with glossy literature and videos is alien to the amateur traditions of British politics," he told the paper.
Presumably he thinks it's all right when Labour do it!
Back in 1997, and still living in the Birmingham Edgbaston constituency where I am now Conservative Parliamentary Candidate, I had a 19-year-old son living at home. He was sent a video through the post, which I still have. It came in a brightly coloured box with the title "Just Play It". It didn't say on the packaging who had sent it or what it was about. The fact that it came from the Labour Party was written only in the very tiniest lettering on the video itself.
When my son played the video, it showed (as pop music played) what appeared to be a trendy young man collecting other hip young people along the way as he went to vote on polling day. Only at the end did you see who the pied piper figure was – Tony Blair. Naturally the hip young people were all voting Labour and the only Conservative portrayed was a very fuddy-duddy old man with a blue rosette who was telling at the polling station.
Andrew Slaughter may not have been a beneficiary of this video which was sent by the Labour Party to young voters in 1997 – but my Labour MP Gisela Stuart certainly was. She has recently put up a snide remark on Twitter about an election (sic) leaflet she has just seen – and I presume she is referring to the eight page glossy booklet which I and my helpers are currently delivering in Edgbaston. It is called People Talk and is a format being used by many Conservative candidates across the country.
It was only in 2008 that Gisela Stuart herself published a glossy eight page booklet (though hers had rather bigger pages than mine). It contained 23 colour pictures of her busy doing things in the constituency (again, rather more pictures than mine).
In her criticism on Twitter, Ms Stuart refers to the leaflet she has seen as being "vanity publishing". In fact vanity publishing is the description for work which an author cannot get published commercially and has to pay to get published themselves. I did not pay for my own leaflet. It was funded by Conservative Party supporters.
Of course Ms Stuart neither had to pay for her leaflet herself nor persuade her supporters to fund it. Her eight page glossy leaflet, plastered with the Labour colours of yellow and red, was her Parliamentary Report 2008 – funded from her Parliamentary Communications Allowance by the taxpayer.
Presumably Ms Stuart and Mr Slaughter approve of that kind of glossy leaflet. It's just Conservative ones they don't like.