Personal publicity for publicity's sake

Negative campaigning is nothing new. Robert Sayer thinks Martin Mears doth protest too much.

Over the past week Martin Mears has whipped up a media storm over an alleged "dirty tricks" campaign. As I was one of the alleged victims of those "dirty tricks", I have made it my business to find out exactly what happened.

The allegation is based on a meeting held by supporters of Phillip Sycamore and Michael Mathews back in February, a few weeks before they asked me to join their team. At that time Martin had already declared that he would stand for election as president and the first edition of Caterpillar had been published. How to prepare for the election was discussed and one person put forward some negative campaign suggestions. They were considered, rejected and never implemented. Remember that when reading the lurid stories in the press. Martin is doing his best to obscure that fundamental fact.

Did Sycamore and Mathews do anything wrong. From what I am told, I don't think so. For the past three elections both sides have held campaign meetings. Martin and I did during the two elections we fought together and I know he and his colleagues did so this year.

Both sides have had suggestions made to them by supporters which they have rejected. At least once Martin and I were urged to blow up Chancery Lane complete with all its inhabitants. We didn't do it. Sycamore and Mathews were urged to use private investigators to find out about Mears, Keating and myself. They didn't do it.

Martin hints at attempts to manage council agendas. Hardly plausible to anyone who has watched the torrent of bad news that has poured out of Chancery Lane over the past month. It didn't happen.

And before Martin gets too excited, let me remind him of the dinners and breakfast meetings he organised in the president's residence before each council meeting during his presidency, at which his "reform group" would be briefed on what to say at the council meeting. Unfortunately, by the time the meetings started, most of them would forget what they were meant to do or failed to speak at all or, in one person's case, regularly got confused and voted the wrong way. Incompetence may have made them ineffective but the thought was there.

Why this issue has blown up now is simple. Someone leaked a note of that meeting to Martin. Martin is milking it for all it is worth. He believes it will win him votes. He knows it will gain him personal publicity. To him those two things are all that counts. It's how he operated when he was president. Remember the constant headlines. He genuinely believes there is no such thing as bad publicity provided it gets his name in the papers. It was what drove me from him. To see it all happening again with the prospect of another year of it makes me despair.

I can forgive human frailty but spare me from hypocrisy and crocodile tears.