It's that point in the campaign when emotions are running high and we are all getting stressed. This usually results in angry emails from candidates who are understandably upset about the half-truths and misrepresentations in the latest opposition leaflet.
"What are you going to do about it?" Or "We must print and send out a rebuttal."
My advice in such circumstances is DON'T!
Imagine this scenario..... Labour deliver a leaflet claiming, "The Conservative candidate eats kittens."
1. Labour loyalists read the leaflet and believe it as they want to believe the worst about you. But they we're never going to vote for you anyway.
2. Genuine floating voters will probably read it, but being fair and open minded will discard it as "spin".
3. Conservative voters, who will turn out for you, will probably not read a Labour leaflet and therefore will be blissfully ignorant about the cruel and untrue accusation. And if they do happen to read it, will discount the accusation as a "preposterous Labour lie."
We deliver a rebuttal. "I DON'T EAT KITTENS" says angry Conservative candidate.
1. Labour voters (who are the ones who believed the accusation probably won't read your leaflet. And those that do will say "well.... he would deny it, wouldn't he. Bloody Tory."
2. Floating voters, who will probably read the leaflet, will say "why does he need to deny such a ridiculous thing. What has he got to hide?"
3. Conservative voters, who are unlikely to have read the Labour leaflet, will almost certainty read yours and will now wonder why you have gone to the trouble of denying something they didn't know anything about.
What will have also happened...
EVERY voter in your ward will have received TWO leaflets talking about you being a kitten eater. And NO leaflets talking about low Council Tax, good services and your record as a champion for local residents.
My advice has therefore always been the same.
NEVER allow the opposition to dictate the campaign narrative.
NEVER justify a lie by repeating it.
NEVER let your opponents see they have irritated or upset you.
NEVER be distracted into talking about the issues they want rather than the issues we want.