The Liberal Democrats have been accused of treating Southport voters with contempt by trying to “pull the same con trick” twice in successive elections here. 
 
It comes after a letter was sent to local constituents which appears to come from a seemingly independent pollster who says he has earnt his living by “cutting through the spin to see what the data really says” and tells voters that the election here is between the Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. 
 
What the letter doesn’t say is that the pollster, Mike Smithson, is a former Lib Dem politician and that in 2017 he sent a very similar letter saying he’d “crunched the numbers” in Southport and came up with the same conclusion.
 
Not only was he wrong then, as the Lib Dems came a distant third behind the Tories and Labour but it was discovered that the same letter was sent to all the Lib Dems marginals across the country and curiously, the numbers always “crunched” the same. 
 
This time Smithson also references the tactical voting website Best for Britain saying hundreds of seats across the country could be decided by remainers voting for the Lib Dems but the site actually recommends tactical voters choose Labour in Southport. 
 
Indeed, all of the four main tactical voting sites now recommend Labour as the best choice for those looking to defeat the Conservatives in Southport.
 
Labour’s Parliamentary Candidate Liz Savage says this latest letter is an “insult” to Southport voters:
 
“It was bad enough that the Lib Dems pulled this stunt last time but for me, this is a case of treating local residents with total disdain by trying to pull the same con trick once again.” 
 
“It’s very easy not to realise this letter is from the Lib Dems directly. Crucially, there’s also no mention at all of the fact Mr Smithson is a former Lib Dem politician or that his “cutting through the spin” is actually an exercise in exacerbating it.” 
 
“They are increasingly desperate here but there is really no excuse for trying to hoodwink local residents like this, it’s shameless and an insult.” 
 
“The Lib Dem vote has been in steep decline all decade in general elections here and this time even the Tories have admitted it’s a straight fight between us and them.”
 
“We’ve known for some time that on the doorstep the Lib Dem vote is collapsing but now the tactical voting sites are catching up and the four main sites now recommend Labour.” 
 
“If people want the Tories out – vote Labour and don’t fall for Lib Dem fake mail.”      
 

Photo captions – 
The 2019 Smithson letter 
The first version in 2017.
Liz Savage Labour’s Southport candidate