In the last few weeks someone has started using the messaging service Twitter under the identity of ‘lutonliberal’. This person goes by the name of Terry Spencer and describes themselves in their bio in the following terms:
“ex lib-dem town councillor now living in Luton firmly behind Qurban Hussain”
So you might think that a Liberal Democrat activist has decided to use Twitter to promote Qurban Hussain’s campaign in Luton South. Yet I think that something distinctly fishy is going on and some questions need to be asked.
Firstly, there is nobody involved in the Luton Liberal Democrats with the name of Terry Spencer. I am the local party secretary and would know if there was. We have no member, current or lapsed, with the name of Terry Spencer. There doesn’t appear to be a Terry Spencer on the electoral register in Luton either.
So is Terry Spencer a real person?
Luton doesn’t have any town councils so I did a quick Google search to see if I could find where our tweeting friend was elected. I did find that there was a Terry Spencer on the council of New Whiteland in Indiana and there is a Tory with that name on Worcestershire County Council. But no trace of a Liberal Democrat councillor with that name.
So, if he does exist, where was Terry Spencer a town councillor?
Then there is the problem with what our friend Terry is actually Tweeting about. If you read the tweets, which you can do here and make up your own mind, the claim to be “firmly behind Qurban Hussain” seems to evaporate.
The pattern of what Terry writes seems to be to make some general tweets and re-tweets in favour of the Liberal Democrats, but then to be critical of Liberal Democrat candidate Qurban Hussain. He is also critical of independent candidate Stephen Rhodes. He is more positive about Joe Hall. But the candidate he has most praise for is Esther Rantzen. Terry seems to want to give the impression that he is a disappointed Lib Dem campaigner that believes Esther’s campaign is the one with the momentum.
Here are some examples;
“Is clegg effect fading hope not – newspapers are just aligning themselves I guess we may lose Luton to Esther but we will gain nationally” May 1st
“Our hope qurban is fading fast in Luton south really pissed off thought you would do Better on TV maybe clegg effect will help” May 2nd
“lib dems are leading in polls in tommorows papers – Esther is leading in Luton though” May 3rd
Now it is possible that there are people in Luton who used to vote Liberal Democrat but aren’t impressed by our candidate and are falling for Esther’s charms. Unlikely, but possible. But our Terry wants to go further than that. He wants give the impression, particularly with his choice of Twitter identity, that he is more than just a voter and is somehow active in our campaign.
He is not.
I don’t want to go all CSI and start doing textual analysis, but from the way Terry writes I doubt he is a a Liberal Democrat at all. For instance, he often refers to us as ‘liberals’ and no Liberal Democrat activist would write ‘lib-dem’. A hyphen, please!
I am happy to be proved wrong if Terry wants to contact me – but the question needs to be asked whether this an attempt to use Twitter to boost Esther’s campaign and undermine the Liberal Democrat one?
If it is, I would be very surprised if Esther Rantzen’s campaign itself was behind it. It would undermine her whole argument about cleaning up politics and besides she’s just not that sort of person. But perhaps for the avoidance of doubt, if she reads this, it would be sensible for her to make it clear that Terry Spencer has nothing to with her?
This content was originally posted on my old Strange Thoughts blog.