Oxford’s local election campaigns have been struck by controversy as polling day nears, after Liberal Democrat campaigners have accused the Labour candidate for the University Parks division of “lies and slander” in negative campaigning about her Liberal Democrat opponent.
The Labour candidate is Dr Emma Turnbull, with the Liberal Democrats represented by Lucinda Chamberlain, an Oxford student studying PPE at Brasenose.
A leaflet distributed last week by the Labour campaign claimed that Chamberlain did not “[w]ork hard for Remain during the EU referendum.”
Chamberlain, speaking to Cherwell, said this was a “blatant lie”, and an attempt to mislead voters. She maintains that she “gave 100% to Oxford students for Europe and… did everything in [her] power” for a Remain vote, including “being an incredibly dedicated phone bank manager”.
The claims were also strongly rejected by Harry Samuels, who was co-Chair of the Oxford University Liberal Democrats during the EU referendum. Samuels told Cherwell: “It’s deeply disappointing that Labour have resorted to outright lies about a fantastic, hard-working, pro-EU candidate in this election. Lucinda worked extremely hard in our campaign to remain in the EU.”
Samuels is also running to be a Liberal Democrat councillor in Cowley.
Chamberlain’s campaign has since produced a video detailing her work during the referendum campaign, which included volunteering in call centres and canvassing on the streets of Oxford.
Chamberlain has also received support from followers via Twitter.
— Andy McKay (@andygmckay) April 27, 2017
Turnbull declined to comment on the allegations, and has thus far chosen not to apologise. A Labour Party spokesperson told Cherwell: “We are proud of our positive and progressive County Council campaign, which has prioritised increased investment in social care services and tackling Oxfordshire’s housing crisis.”
The Electoral Commission’s outline of electoral offences says: “It is an illegal practice to make or publish a false statement of fact about the personal character or conduct of a candidate in order to affect the return of a candidate at an election.”