Fringe Box



Complaint About Lib Dem Councillor Sent to Party Leader Sir Ed Davey

Published on: 1 May, 2023
Updated on: 27 May, 2023

The leader of R4GV, Joss Bigmore (left) has complained to the Leader of the Lib Dem Party, Sir Ed Davey, about the behaviour of Lib Dem candidate George Potter

By Martin Giles

The Residents for Guildford & Villages party has complained to the leader of the Liberal Democrat party about the behaviour of a local councillor in the GBC election campaign.

The leader from R4GV says, in an open letter addressed to Sir Ed Davey MP, that George Potter, a borough and county councillor and candidate for Burpham in the forthcoming GBC election, is “regularly and frequently traducing the reputation and integrity of a number of fellow councillors, candidates for election and ordinary residents” and claim that his actions are “bringing (Guildford) Liberal Democrats into extreme disrepute”.

Sir Edward Davey MP

See letter in full below…

The letter lists four sections of the Liberal Democrats Code of Conduct which they claim Potter has broken and specifically mentions his denial that he met campaigner Robin Horsley before admitting that was untrue [see: R4GV Leader Defends Colleague While Opponents Admit Meeting Campaigner].

This, it is claimed, broke the Lib Dem code which states: “We expect our members and registered supporters at all times to behave lawfully, honestly and with integrity.”

One of the comments made by George Potter on social media included in R4GV’s letter of complaint.

As well as accusations of lying against R4GV members by Potter, the R4GV letter lists several of his comments made on social media.

The letter concludes “We ask that action is taken to censure him [Potter]. We will also be raising complaints to the Monitoring Officers at Guildford Borough and Surrey County Councils. In particular, we expect Councillor Potter to make a public apology and clarification on each of the social media platforms and other media platforms…”.

Today, R4GV says it has, so far, received no response.

The Dragon asked Sir Ed Davey and the local Lib Dem party if they agreed that the current GBC election campaign had been particularly aggressive, whether the criticism of George Potter was in any way justified, whether they agreed with all of Potter’s comments, their tone and style, and whether they’d be taking any action.

Responding, an unnamed Lib Dem spokesperson would only say: “With only a few days to go until polling day, debates get heated. But people here in Guildford are telling us on the doorsteps they want to elect local champions who will make a difference, from cost of living to local health services, to sewage in our rivers, we are focused entirely on them.”

George Potter responded: “I have no comment to make.”

Ramsey Nagaty, the leader of the Guildford Greenbelt Group said he felt George Potter had overstepped the mark with his “aggressive tone and style” and said things that were “clearly untrue”.

Ramsey Nagaty

“Unfortunately there has been a spate of misinformation and personal attacks in the current election period which I deplore.

“With the results of the election on May 4th wide open, all parties need to remember that they might soon need to work closely together to form a new administration.  I therefore suggest all candidates dial down the personal attacks and concentrate on presenting their manifestos in the most positive way.”

Brian Creese, the chair of Guildford Labour a party which has previously complained of Lib Dem tactics, said: “We in Guildford Labour have not really felt this election campaign has been more ill-tempered than usual – in fact it has been far better than the 2019 general election when the level of online abuse was off the scale.

Brian Creese

“However, it is pretty obvious that relations between the two parties that have been jointly running the council for the past four years has now broken down.  All the hustings events have seen a high level of backbiting between the Lib Dems and R4GV.

“We certainly have a great deal of criticism about how deceitfully the Liberal Democrats have run this election campaign, but we don’t lay this at Cllr Potter’s door.

“We are outraged that the Liberal Democrat leaflets feature their parliamentary candidate who is not a candidate in these elections. The latest one has 25 per cent dedicated to a chart of the last general election.

A 2023 Lib Dem GBC election leaflet showing the 2019 general election result.

“This chart doesn’t mention R4GV and is designed to give voters the impression that the current shambolic state of the council is the fault of the Conservative party not the Liberal Democrats – who are the biggest party.

“We feel this is a deliberate attempt to mislead the residents of Guildford and allow the Liberal Democrats to avoid taking responsibility for the decisions of the last four years.”

Below is R4GV’s letter of complaint in full…

The Conservatives were also invited to comment.

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Responses to Complaint About Lib Dem Councillor Sent to Party Leader Sir Ed Davey

  1. Ben Paton Reply

    May 1, 2023 at 6:53 pm

    Triple A star marks to Mr Potter: argumentative, abrasive, abusive.

    Ad hominem attacks are seldom if ever justified and never when there is no objective evidence or analysis to support them.

    He never knowingly refrains from commenting on other people. And when he does it is usually derogatory and unpleasant.

  2. Daniel Hill Reply

    May 1, 2023 at 9:02 pm

    Cllr Potter is definitely getting a bit of a reputation on social media. Letks not forget the time he refused to apologise for his insulting comments made to PCC Lisa Townsend. And the rude and aggressive tweets to women who supported Lisa. Including a very bizarre tweet declaring he was “the voice of women”.

  3. Nick Trier Reply

    May 1, 2023 at 10:36 pm

    President Harry Truman popularized the phrase, “If you can’t stand the heat, get out of the kitchen.” It seems naive and prissy of R4GV to complain about the Lib Dems misrepresenting statistics now as they have done that for years! Perhaps if R4GV candidates are too delicate for local politics they should stand down.

    Nick Trier is a Labour party candidate for Worplesdon in the forthcoming GBC election.

    • James Heaphy Reply

      May 2, 2023 at 1:14 am

      If pushing back against personal attacks and downright untruths is prissy, while being abused and lied about is something ordinary people should be expected to accept when they choose to volunteer and stand for public office, then I very much fear for our democracy.

      When one of your own Labour MPs, Stella Creasy, has this week stated that she felt “humiliated” by untrue online attacks made about her with regard to her children, and further added that these sorts of attacks are “damaging the whole of public life”, then I am left at a loss by Nick Trier’s, as it seems to suggest that the actions of Cllr Potter, should be accepted as “par for the course” in local politics.

      I think you need to take a step back in order to reconsider your views while Cllr Potter needs to apologise for his actions.

      James Heaphy is an R4GV candidate for Onslow Ward in the forthcoming GBC election

    • John Redpath Reply

      May 2, 2023 at 9:24 am

      I think the point Nick Trier misses here is that one should play the ball not the player.

      R4GV are putting up and fighting back against expected Tory misinformation and their make-believe policies. No complaints, that’s the gutter fight we have to take on.

      Cllr Potter though makes personal insults about candidates’ colour and personal background. If he levelled similar criticism at a minority group I’m sure your opinion would suddenly change over what is acceptable behaviour in campaigning.

      John Redpath is a R4GV candidate for Castle ward in the forthcoming GBC election.

  4. Jules Cranwell Reply

    May 2, 2023 at 5:43 am

    I say, let Mr Potter carry on. His constant insults and attacks on colleagues and residents reflect very poorly on the Lib Dems. He is doing significant damage to the election chances of his party. A party that has shown poor leadership when in charge of our council.

  5. David Roberts Reply

    May 3, 2023 at 10:59 am

    I have often been on the receiving end of Mr Potter’s invective. Seemingly he would rather alienate everyone than lose an argument, and badly needs to grow up as a politician. But his party is far too wet to impose discipline, and his local party leader has been completely invisible for months.

  6. Mark Stamp Reply

    May 5, 2023 at 12:23 am

    I was attracted by many of the Lib Dems policies but turned off by the manner of their campaign and therefore struggled to decide who I would vote for.

    I had leaflets telling me that only Zoe Franklin’s Lib Dems could defeat the Conservatives. I thought we were voting for Julia Mcshane’s (whose absence from the campaign was also disconcerting) Lib Dems.

    These leaflets were clearly generated by central office who ignored their coalition partners over the last four years. Maybe there are actually two Liberal Democrat parties in Guildford as I also remember a leaflet a few months ago telling me why Zoe Franklin’s Lib Dems supported the North Street development.

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