September 29th, 2016

Tory cries foul over leaflet claims

Updated: 5:11 pm, May 07, 2015

TRUTH bending and false allegations have caused a political stir ahead of next year’s General Election.

Conservative candidate Julian Knight has slammed Lib Dem MP Lorely Burt for a series of ‘false allegations’ in her latest election leaflet which has been delivered to 10,000 homes across Shirley.

Mrs Burt, or campaigners working on her behalf, manipulated information about her political opponent in a section about why people should vote for her and not ‘Yet Another Tory.’

The exact claims – as pictured – are that Mr Knight:

* Has no record of action locally and says there’s nowhere he’d rather be than London.

* Refuses to back the expansion of Birmingham Airport because he doesn’t like being woken up early.

* Opposed the Lib Dem £700 income tax cuts for working people, claiming people would ‘blow it on a holiday, car or big telly’.

The claims have been put together using a variety of press releases and tweets dating as far back as 2009 before he was a Conservative candidate – but taking them out of context.

An outraged Mr Knight has now called for clean campaigning in the run-up to next year’s General Election.

He said: “The claims are laughable and I wouldn’t have taken the case further except that they are supposed to be direct quotes from me, which is 100 per cent false.

“So tawdry are these attacks that at first I refused to believe the sitting Lib Dem MP authorised them.

“I am assuming good faith but call on her today to ensure that none of these false claims appear again.”

Despite the facts being pointed out to Mrs Burt’s camp the Lib Dem MP has refused to be moved on her claims.

In a statement to the paper she said: “Mr Knight’s comments on tax are a matter of public record.

“His denial of them now shows he cannot be trusted to represent the people of Solihull as their MP.

“The leaflet shows the clear choice voters face at the next election: between the Conservative, a London journalist who has opposed the Lib Dems’ £700 tax cut for ordinary workers, or Lorely – a hard-working Lib Dem MP who has fought tirelessly to stand up for local NHS services.”

Mr Knight also pointed out that Mrs Burt’s – herself not originally from Solihull and a councillor in Dudley until 2003 – claims that she has delivered jobs and growth in Solihull, including a £50million Government investment in Jaguar Land Rover incorrectly make out that the MP has single-handedly secured the cash injection for JLR.

So where do the claims come from?

The Observer has been investigating and here is what we know or have found out:

* Mr Knight has been campaigning for a variety of issues in the borough since he was selected as the Conservative candidate for the General Election.

* The claim that he says there’s nowhere he’d rather be than London comes from a tweet he posted in March 2009 – long before he was a candidate for the Solihull constituency.

The innocent tweet actually read: ‘18 degrees c bright sunshine, just had a run by the river and the rowers..London in spring nowhere else I would rather be’

* Mr Knight has not refused to back the expansion of Birmingham Airport – and specifically not because he doesn’t like being woken up in the morning.

Although the Lib Dem interpretation of the following statement in a press release he issued, is perhaps understandable.

The full comment says:

“People only ever truly value their peace and quiet once it is gone.

“I know these plans maybe far distant and we welcome the potential knock on effect for the economy of a stronger Birmingham airport, however we don’t want the densely populated areas of Solihull to be subject to plane noise. The message is simply we want the jobs but we don’t want the planes.”

* The claim he opposes the airport because he doesn’t like being woken up in the morning comes from a tweet in September 2012 about aeroplane noise in Barnes, London where he has a property, in which he says: “every day for a month been woken in barnes at 5am by planes – this ‘experiment’ is a disgrace’.

* Mr Knight’s full quote – in his financial column for The Independent newspaper in April 2010 an unassociated to his political career – did suggest some people may blow the £700 income tax cut on a holiday, car or big telly, but the main point of his column article is that he would like to see the cash invested in pensions and to encourage savings.

The full section of the article says:

“The Lib Dems say in their manifesto launch that they want to abolish higher rate tax relief on pensions.

“Now, I agree with them, but not on how the money is used.

“It is ridiculous that four-fifths of the tax relief on pensions savings go to the highest earners. The Lib Dems want it to fund what amounts to an income-tax cut – which will just get blown in many instances on a holiday, car or big telly.

“I’d much rather keep it invested in pensions, but how?

“Use the money to raise the basic rate of tax relief from 20 to 26, 27 or even 28 per cent, thereby incentivising millions more on average earnings to save.”

Julian Knight.

Lorely Burt MP.

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