David Cameron spoke about positive campaigning back in December and we couldn’t agree more. Positive campaigning is the ideal route for candidates to talk about what they can do for you rather than getting bogged down in a political slandering match.
Some candidates in previous elections have spent far too much time on negative campaigning. The ‘we are better than them’ approach just isn’t productive. A country gripped by recession and two wars deserves better. We need to know why we should vote for a candidate, rather than simply what’s wrong with everyone else.
There are many benefits to positive campaigning. Candidates can clearly outline what they hope to achieve and why they’re the best candidate. It’s important that candidates sell themselves and shout out their achievements. If you went to an interview and defamed the other applicants, would you expect to find yourself hired?
The next General Election provides a unique opportunity for Independents to set themselves aside from the traditional party election campaigns and offer their constituents something new and fresh – a credible alternative. Dr Richard Taylor is the perfect example of this approach. He defeated a Government Minister in 2001 in Wyre Forest on a string of issues including the rejection of proposals to downgrade the local Kidderminster Hospital being the primary one. If you wish to be elected you must have a well thought out manifesto that can include local issues, but must also include national issues – you’re standing for the UK Parliament, not the local Council.
There are also legal ramifications for slander. If you doggedly pursue a negative campaigning approach, it would be wise to note that many have got themselves into serious legal trouble regarding defamation of character among other types of slander. Carla Bruni-Sarkozy wrote a good piece for The Guardian’s Comment is Free regarding slander of those in the public eye. Although this piece is aimed journalists, it is important to know that any accusations made must be fully researched with empirical evidence.
Whilst the Conservatives and Labour parade the notion of positive campaigning they are not adverse to the occasional spat and reputation bashing. The public are tired of the adversarial politics that is neither productive nor proactive. Independent candidates on the other hand offer something different.
It is time for a change, and I doubt Cameron and the Conservatives can keep to their new found principle. In the words of the opposition leader “let's make it a good clean fight.”