West Country Bylines contacted Mr Liddell-Grainger for a comment for our article earlier today (24 May) and he responded with this, giving us permission to use it however we liked. We’re showing you the original document and the text, in case it’s not clear on your device.
“The “spoof website” that eclipsed the start of Somerset’s local government
referendum was a bizarre distraction. Nobody in their right mind could have
seen the fake site and failed to realise that it was a joke.
Not always to everyone’s taste of course. Mocking politicians mercilessly is
traditional sport in this country and can sometimes be cruel.
Some reactions to the spoof are revealing.
Four of my Parliamentary colleagues issued an angry demand that the
referendum was now so “corrupted” that it should be abandoned.
This overblown response conveniently echoed the views of Somerset County
Council (who want One Somerset to win and become a single unitary
authority) and the Secretary of State for Local Government who appears to be
much happier if voters stay away from ballot boxes altogether.
The government could have organised its own referendum. Instead, they used
a cheapskate online survey in a vain attempt to gather public opinion. There
were no checks, no security whatsoever. Anyone, anywhere in the world could
Now that really was a sick joke!
Scheduled elections to Somerset County Council had already been cancelled
by the Secretary of State. Then he tried threatening the District Councils to pull
the plug on plans for a proper democratic poll. It did not work.
The ballot papers were posted, the referendum is running, and I would hazard
a guess that the overwhelming number of people voting so far did not waste
time following an inaccurate link to see a silly spoof.
It was a glitch that should not have happened, I agree. But it could have been
quickly rectified by Somerset County Council who were sent advance
documentation in the spirit of fairness. In the spirit of stupid stubbornness,
however, they didn’t bother to correct it.
Someone else’s parody may have made headlines, but at least your District
Councils gave you back a bit of honest democracy. So please vote between
now and June 4th. This is the referendum the establishment tried to stop. Let
us all make it really count.”