A Lib Dem leaflet oversteps the mark

Labour MP considering legal action over Lib Dem expenses leaflet.

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The Lib Dems may have been the victim of some scurrilous leaflets in recent times but, as every politico knows, they're rarely afraid of resorting to underhand tactics themselves.

In Rochdale, a neighbouring constituency to Oldham East and Saddleworth, the local party has just issued the leaflet below, which brackets the Labour MP Simon Danczuk with those notable sinners, David Chaytor and Phil Woolas.

Danczuk is pictured under the heading "Guilty?", the implication being that he, like Chaytor and Woolas, faces legal action.

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In a tone of mock outrage, the leaflet declares:

Shockingly, Mr Danczuk has been found to have claimed back 80p to attend Rochdale's Mayor making, £9 to watch a football match at Old Trafford and £72.80 on food in Parliament. He has also employed his partner as his Senior Secretary – a job that can pay up to £27,000! All of this comes after he had the cheek to claim he had taken a huge pay cut!

But, whatever the use of the word "guilty?" may imply, all of the above claims were legal and, by the standards of the expenses scandal, far from exceptional. Unsurprisingly, Danczuk is considering suing the party for libel. The Lib Dems may live to regret their use of the crude tactic of guilt by association.

George Eaton is assistant editor of the New Statesman.