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Electoral Commission asked to rule on poster that compares mayors to Hitler

Electoral Commission asked to rule on poster that compares mayors to Hitler

🕔11.Mar 2012

Campaigners against an elected mayor for Birmingham may face an Electoral Commission enquiry after criticism of a leaflet that equates the mayoral role with that of fascist dictators.

The leaflet, adorned with an image of a Birmingham street after a German bombing raid in the second world war, says: ‘Brummies have always fought back against disctators. Don’t elect one – vote no!”

Roger Godsiff MP, who leads the ‘Vote No to an Elected Power Freak’ campaign with fellow MP John Hemming, was unapologetic, telling the BBC:

If some of the wannabe candidates and their associated PR advisers, consultants, media reps and lobbyists… have had their feathers ruffled by the leaflet, I’m not particularly concerned.

Supporters of the yes campaign say the poster has dragged the debate into the gutter. John O’Shea, who blogs as PoliticalHack said:

It’s wrong, it’s obscene. It needs to be withdrawn and we need an apology from the no campaign.”

The Chamberlain Files has learned that a complaint has been sent to the Electoral Commission, asking the body to investigate whether the poster breaks any electioneering rules. The Commission oversees the  conduct of campaigns and elections in the UK, but it is unclear whether it has jurisdiction over the mayoral referendum. Local elections are the responsibility of the local authorities, where chief executives such as Birmingham’s Stephen Hughes are returning officers.

However, the letter sent to the commission by a leading member of Birmingham’s business community, says:

This document … uses a photograph of a German blitz on Burford Street, Digbeth in its grotesque attempts to suggest an elected mayor for Birmingham would be as much as dictator as Adolf Hitler.  This is sickening to all Brummies, not least the 2214 … Birmingham citizens who died during that blitz, and their families who are alive today. We require a grown up and civilised debate about localism and the way in which we are governed locally in Birmingham.

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