General Election 2015: Patrick Haveron (Liberal Democrats)

Post length: 804 words, about 3 and a half minutes.


Full name: Patrick Haveron
Party: Liberal Democrats (suspended)
Website: (currently offline)


Before we begin, it’s worth noting that Haveron has been suspended from the Liberal Democrats due to claims he falsified council nomination papers. At this time his Twitter account has been closed and his campaign website is not working (it is still available via Google cache at the moment). However it is my understanding that he will still be on the ballot papers for both the constituency and council elections and therefore I will continue to review the election communication I received last weekend.

Haveron’s leaflet, below, was the second of the main parties’ freepost communication to arrive. The front page is dominated by a photograph of the candidate in a smiling but thoughtful pose. (As an aside, this reminds me of the power poses used as part of the Romanian presidential election in October last year, a selection of which can be seen here.) The inside covers first what Haveron describes as “My priorities for South West Surrey;” healthcare, taxation, prosperity, education and the environment. This seems to be all very run-of-the-mill, but then there is the jaunty-angled “Plus!” section at the bottom. This section in a slightly different font, looking as if it’s been tacked on the bottom, talks about immigration, state intrusion and electoral reform. It is this last point is of interest to me — since the no vote in the 2011 referendum on the alternative vote system, the Liberal Democrats have been quite quiet on the issue of electoral reform. While there has been occasional mention of reform of the upper chamber, it’s certainly not featured prominently in the national election campaign. Additionally Waverley’s results in the 2011 referendum came out strongly against the AV system (72.6% voted no). Therefore I find it peculiar that this would feature on an election leaflet in this way — the intention may be that the “Plus!” section is meant to highlight additional policy (“all this and more”), but the way it is tacked on the end does the opposite, drawing the eye and highlighting those issues.

The first half of the second inside page talks about one of the biggest issues in the current election, the NHS. The content is central party line and discusses funding and privatisation. It also casually throws in the acronym TTIP. The Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership, or TTIP, is something which been talked about a few times in the recent weeks but I suspect is something which most casual voters will not understand or perhaps even know about. While I don’t question the validity as a topic for an election campaign I do feel that simply throwing in the acronym without further explanation risks alienating potential voters. It’s not good practice to patronise your reader, but it is helpful to explain what you are talking about — after all, most consumers of this literature won’t be politically savvy and won’t take the time to look these things up.

The back page of the leaflet I commend for its content. It covers real local issues such as the local plan and the decline of small businesses in the constituency. However in what appears to be an attempt to appeal to trendy, perhaps younger voters, there is excessive use of the hash symbol. In what I assume is supposed to reflect the Twitter generation each of the headings is preceded by the a hashtag: “#Local Plan Failure,” “#Infrastructure First.” To my mind this is ridiculous. At the very least, if done right without spaces, then it would look silly, but done incorrectly, as is the case here, it just serves to make the candidate look further out of touch with the demographic it’s intended to appeal to!


Based on the 2010 general election result in South West Surrey, the Liberal Democrats are the second place party in the constituency. However, technically, in the 2015 general election the party are currently not fielding a candidate at all. Haveron will no doubt get a fair few votes on May 7th regardless of his official position with the party. The leaflet itself is a mixed bag. I approve of the inclusion of genuine local issues on the back page but think that the presentation of this specific page with its use of the # symbox will either patronise or baffle readers. There is no information regarding the candidate’s background (you could find more information about him on his campaign website, again from the Google cache) and no personal statement. Having a suspended candidate on the ballot paper makes for an interesting situation. The allegations of impropriety apply only to the local election nomination papers and not the national election, and it will be interesting to see if his suspension makes much difference to the outcome of the election.

Posted on Wednesday 29th April, 2015 at 8:57 am in Obiter dicta.
It was tagged with , , , , , .

Leave a comment