Let the mudslinging and the conspiracies commence

If there are two things that can be guaranteed every election season, without fail, they are scandals involving the breaching of campaign rules and policy theft. And bang on cue, with the rumours drying up as candidates retire to darkened rooms filled with smoke and mirrors to draw up their winning schemes, the bitching and finger-pointing has reared its ugly, but wonderfully entertaining head.

At the centre of a brewing storm is Democracy and Services candidate-to-be Chris Etheridge, who has got fellow candidates effing and blinding over what is generally being perceived as s cheeky head-start. OTR was sent the below by an anonymous tipster, but I reckon many of the readers of this blog will have had a similar invitation:

OTR has learned that with Taskmaster Bretts still unwell, annoyed candidates and general election sleuths have fired accusatory emails to YUSU Staff members, current Sabbs and the media. However, OTR has obtained an email that shows when Nouse got in touch with the staff member currently deputising for Bretts, the reporter was told that it is “allowed in the run up to the announcement of candidates and part of the process of ‘preparing for campaigning'”. Whatever that means.

Indeed, when OTR got in touch with Etheridge’s campaign Tsar Peter Campbell, he said that they “spoke with YUSU prior to the invitations” and that the invitations were “all above board”. Apparently, the YUSU line is that if it’s a secret group, unsolicited invitations are totally kosher. I’d reckon that all those people who are complaining now will quickly jump on that loophole bandwagon.

Perhaps more intriguing is a juicy little piece of gossip that OTR heard today regarding policy selling. “Policy selling?” I hear you cry. Yes. If getting people to stick to them wasn’t enough, now they’re being traded.

Allegedly, an as yet unknown member of a Student Activities candidate’s campaign team went rogue and the mercenary little tyke approached a rival candidate with the offer of a certain number of their candidate’s finest policies, for a fee.

What does a decent policy go for nowadays on the black market? Who was this devious little double-crosser? Answers on a postcard please. All OTR knows is that the well-meaning candidate turned down the offer. Good on them. Unless, of course, the policy was crap.

Campaigning starts in exactly seven days time. Nominations close Friday.

Lots of election gossip and intrigue in tomorrow’s Nouse. Look out for it on campus from 11AM.

Gossip and rumours to [email protected]

The opinions expressed above are not representative of either those of Nouse, or of YUSU. They are the speculations and personal views of the author who is not a member of the editorial team, and should be treated as such.


  1. What is there to stop someone creating a secret group and inviting every York student?

    If this is allowed, surely ALL unsolicited invitations are allowed? Which makes the idea of not campaigning before it opens clearly ridiculous.

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  2. Setting up a secret Facebook group prior to the election is standard campaigning practice – hardly nouseworthy.

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  3. A secret facebook group is normal and un-newsworthy, but only if it’s limited to campaign team members. Inviting a few select individuals who you think will want to campaign for you is one thing, inviting all 600 of your facebook friends is another. I’ve not seen the group in question, so do not have an opinion on whether it has crossed the line.

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  4. I would say *most* candidates will have set up a secret Facebook group, purely to organise their campaigns.

    The difference is that here, pretty much everyone has been invited to it. Personally I am not in favour of the idea, as the rules I read seemed to make it patently clear that there should be no campaigning until *after* the candidates briefing next Monday at 6pm…

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  5. 22 Feb ’10 at 7:40 pm

    Rumours cause trouble

    A point of information. As far as fair play is concerned, the group currently lists no policies and makes clear that it will not do so until campaigning goes live. It has also been made clear that no electoral rules have been broken. Given the well known integrity of the candidate involved, they are hardly likely to go against YUSU regulations and scare mongering articles of this nature could cause a great deal of harm to a legitimate campaign.

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  6. Chris has set up 2 groups – One to organise his campaigners, and the other urging people to vote for him.

    Kinda different to the usual organisation one no?

    If Etheridge has a campaign team of 82 and increasing he is definitely going to win…

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  7. this is the game we play…

    smart move…

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  8. From the Facebook Group:


    Week 7:-

    Friday – Nominations close.

    Saturday/Sunday – Policies to be posted here.”

    That’s policies before campaigning. Sorry.

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  9. 22 Feb ’10 at 8:12 pm

    Peter Campbell

    Hi Matt,

    The policies are not going to be in the public domain before campaigning starts, because the group will remain private until campaigning starts on Monday.

    If you have any questions regarding practice then take them to YUSU, but everything that we have done (and are going to do) is, as quoted above, totally above board.

    Many thanks.


    Peter Campbell
    Campaign Manger [some might say ‘Tsar’]

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  10. woop peter!

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  11. If only Chris showed such ingenuity during the Portering campaign… or indeed anything he did as “campaigns officer”.

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  12. Peter – It doesn’t matter if the group is private if you invite that many people unsolicited! There are now 102 members, that is clearly NOT a campaign team. It’s a group to promote the candidate – campaigning!

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  13. 23 Feb ’10 at 12:50 am

    Scarlett Team

    “Allegedly, an as yet unknown member of a Student Activities candidate’s campaign team went rogue and the mercenary little tyke approached a rival candidate with the offer of a certain number of their candidate’s finest policies, for a fee.”

    noone has approached the Scarlett team and I’m sure the mysterons wouldnt take kindly to a Scarlett team campaigner who had spilt secret information…

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  14. 23 Feb ’10 at 2:00 am

    The Hesselhood

    We’ve been keeping schtum about Rachel’s policies, though they’re definitely worth shouting about!


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  15. 23 Feb ’10 at 9:35 am

    Daniel linderman

    I suppose Chris has to drum up as much support as he can before David Sharp reveals his policies.

    DS 4 D&S! Fix Up!

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  16. I’ll sell my policies for a pound each. Good way to use rivals’ money to fund my own campaign (and I can’t believe that it’s the case). I personally think that inviting more than 30-35 people to a secret group prior to elections is incredibly dubious but since YUSU has given approval then I guess there’s nothing for anyone to complain about!

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  17. Etheridge has invited people who he is not friends with and does not know, nevermind just people who aren’t his official campaigners.

    This IS campaigning whether its secret or not.

    There are 103 people in his group now. If a (without wishing to appear to sound rude) more popular candidate, or a candidate with more “internet friends” did this and had say, 400-500 people in a secret group, would that still be okay with YUSU?

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  18. 23 Feb ’10 at 11:36 am

    Ivanna Cheatalot

    No one outside of his campaign team likes Etheridge anyway. Thats why he needs as big a team as possible to begin with, even if they don’t know who he is. To be fair, I don’t really think any of the real cadidates should fret about Chris getting a headstart because thats as far as he’ll get anyway. Unless there are no other candidates running like in previous situations he ain’t got a hope in hell. I’d elect Matthew Freckelton to YUSU before Etheridge, and that’s saying something. In fact, Freckelton for president!!! Policies over ‘experience’. Ha

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  19. 23 Feb ’10 at 11:39 am

    Dasher Mule Soul

    103 people in the group? That does seem a bit absurd. You’re not allowed to have 103 people on campus campaigning for you. Indeed, as an experienced campaigns officer himself, surely Mr. Etheridge doesn’t need that many people anyway.

    I always thought that campaigners were the guys who were out on campus, wearing official badges and giving out leaflets. If YUSU does not give out 103 badges, then the secret group is unfair. QED.

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  20. i have noticed lots of other people doing the same as of last night.

    it seems that everyone else has spotted the loop hole.

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  21. Actually, the number of campaigners is unlimited this year; the rule on badges is simply that you can only have 3 campaigner badges between you and only those with badges can hand out flyers or enter accommodation buildings.

    Thus, Etheridge has done nothing wrong.

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  22. Are we not forgetting somebody here? I’m quite upset how Powell has been allowed to get away with his crimes, because his mates keep justifying his actions and lying. I’m going to keep this short and sweet and if the moderator blocks this, we may as well be living in East Germany:

    *Sentence removed by moderator*. I want this to be made clear and not hidden before voting starts. I for one do not want to be represented by someone (if there is any truth here) of this calibre next year.

    Just remember Nouse, if Bretts had done this or been accused of, you would be all over it.

    Moderator: this is probably not Fusion

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  23. “No one outside of his campaign team likes Etheridge anyway”

    Chris is one of the nicest, most straightforward and most likeable people I have ever met, and that’s coming from someone who is on the complete opposite side of the political spectrum.

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  24. 23 Feb ’10 at 2:30 pm

    Ivanna Cheatalot

    George,….. or jason?

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  25. If by Jason you mean me, nope. Though I’m not a Conservative and I do think he’s a nice person. I’m still of the opinion that we shouldn’t really be supporting or opposing candidates yet, however!

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  26. 24 Feb ’10 at 9:51 am

    Kennedy's Cafe

    I just hope Bretts gets better soon. mwa xox

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  27. 24 Feb ’10 at 10:57 am


    Pleeeeease come back soon Bretts. YUSU is crumbling without you!

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  28. 24 Feb ’10 at 11:35 am

    Concerned Voter

    Surely a group entitled ‘Etheridge for Democracy and Services’ comes under the bracket of campaigning. If Chris were to wander round campus giving out flyers that said exactly the same thing, he’d get in trouble. This is no different because non-campaigners have been approached and invited to the group without being vetted. This isn’t an organisational campaigns team group, it’s a campaign in itself. YUSU should disqualify or at least penalise Chris immediately.

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  29. There is no debate regarding this issue, the group was approved by YUSU prior to its establishment. Therefore every candidate is entitled to do the same.

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  30. As were are doing.

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  31. 25 Feb ’10 at 8:27 am

    Dasher Mule Soul

    If this is true, then it’s a terrible loophole that people should not exploit.

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  32. “There is no debate regarding this issue, the group was approved by YUSU prior to its establishment.”

    It was erroneously approved by a member of staff – not the returning or proxy-returning officer. Etheridge and ‘campaign manager’ Campbell knew they could ask staff who weren’t exactly sure of the exact rules and exploit it.

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  33. Exploit the rules in what way? The group did not contain his policies, or anything about him really, so the people who joined it are the kind of people who would have voted for Chris anyway – his friends.

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  34. 25 Feb ’10 at 11:27 am

    confused voter

    I’ve been invited to this group by a friend of a friend, who really isn’t a friend at all. From this, I certainly wouldn’t class Chris as my friend. Yet I’ve still been invited to the group.

    I definitely won’t be voting for Chris now. If he could win through good policies, as well as professionalism and integrity, then he would have waited to campaign till monday like everyone else. Instead, he’s just appearing as a career politician who’s in it just for his cv, and who ,like the current d+s officer, can’t be trusted to fulfill his manifesto policies.

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  35. BEWARE! The Mysterons are coming…..

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  36. 25 Feb ’10 at 12:13 pm

    Some More Mysterons

    Everybody run, run for your lives! The Mysterons are coming….

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  37. 25 Feb ’10 at 12:35 pm

    Slightly Amused

    Democracy and Services Candidate breaks election rules. Excellent candidate for returning officer duties next year. Smooth, Chris.

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  38. 25 Feb ’10 at 1:39 pm

    Peter Campbell

    Hi ‘Fairness’,

    I understand why you might feel that asking YUSU staff was an easy way to gain permission for an action. However, I personally checked with the YUSU member of staff responsible for the election rules in Lewis’ absence, and she in turn checked with the NUS acting returning officer before getting back to me. So it was a move that was approved by the proxy-returning officer, and I have that in writing.

    In fact, I went out of my way to make sure that we were not breaking any rules, which we haven’t. Members of other campaigns have since contacted me and congratulated our campaign on its initiative for the move.

    Thanks for your concern,


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  39. One high profile campaigner for a SA candidate seems to have resolved to “mudslinging” about more high profile candidates in Derwent Computer Room…

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  40. My predictions:

    President: Probably that bastard John Terry
    Democracy and Services: Probably that bastard John Terry
    Welfare: Probably that bastard John Terry
    Academic: Probably that bastard John Terry
    Sport: Probably that bastard John Terry
    Student Activities: Probably that bastard John Terry

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  41. 25 Feb ’10 at 5:02 pm

    Anonymous tipster

    Today this email was sent by Ms. Rachel Hesselwood to student societies. Does this count as campaigning?

    Dear society,
    I am going to be running for the sabbatical officer position of Student Activities in this years elections. As part of the planning and preparation for my campaign, I’m trying to get a timetable sorted, and I would love to visit as many societies as I can throughout week 8 and 9.

    Please could you let me know if you have any events/committee meetings or anything that I can come along to in week 8 and 9 so I can find out more about you and what you would need from a Student Activities Officer, and tell you/your members a little about my plans/policies.

    Many thanks,
    Rachel Hesselwood

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  42. Derwent Computer Room, aye? That’ll be someone from the campaign themed around the baddies from a certain Gerry Anderson TV series that wasn’t either Thunderbirds or Stingray, methinks.

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  43. 25 Feb ’10 at 6:12 pm

    @ @interesting

    I think you’ll find it was directed *towards* that campaign, not perpetrated by a supporter of it!

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  44. 25 Feb ’10 at 7:39 pm

    Vanbrugh Computer Room Crew

    Derwent Computer Room is definitely not Captain Scarlett’s room of choice.

    You’ll be hard pushed to find a day he’s not in Vanbrugh.

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  45. Hey Henry,

    Is there any chance you can give the pound I contributed to your ‘charity’ raffle to Haiti, as your team mate suggest it would do?

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  46. Heh, funny that people start paying attention to societies, and begin visiting them just before election period… Is it so that they can identify problems and come up with policies, or is it just a way for them to make themselves known? Clearly the latter – else, they would have been involved earlier on.


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  47. 25 Feb ’10 at 10:36 pm

    nick scarlett

    In reference to “A tipster” I would say that definitely is not campaigning. These messages actually only reach society chairs and is therefore a personal message rather than a mass message, and it counts as a request for a meeting rather than a description of a policies – so lets not mudsling where there’s no mud to be found…

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  48. Guess that means Nick Scarlett has done the same thing then….

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  49. 26 Feb ’10 at 9:15 am

    Team Scarlett

    Re: Johnny YUSU, no he hasn’t – however that doesn’t mean Rachel shouldn’t have…

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  50. 26 Feb ’10 at 10:09 am

    Look over there!

    Is Peter Campbell acting as a spin doctor instead of campaign manager?
    Surely there’s some small print about that.

    Also, when are we going to accept that ‘Team Scarlett’ is probably just Nick posting as himself?

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  51. Guess which College Chair is going to try and succeed where her man failed…

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  52. Spin doctoring in pLacE of caMpaign managing shOuld defiNitely be against the rules. It’s cynical and cheaPens the electoRal procESS. Having said that, it is also fun.

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  53. Apparently, candidates are going to be set challenges at this year’s hustings.

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  54. 27 Feb ’10 at 5:54 pm

    A. Politician

    Why not just drop all these campaigning rules about the internet?

    I can understand no postering before a certain date because it causes litter and looks messy, but what harm does a bit of January/February internet campaigning do?

    The online campaigning rules lead to overzealous, stupid sanctions on candidates and aren’t up-to-date enough to deal with other people posting support or policies under fake names.

    Lets just allow people to declare candidacy as soon as they like, announce policies as soon as they like and create as many facebook groups as they damn well please. Nobody votes for someone ‘cos they’ve got a facebook group.

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  55. I spoke to Chris about the group and was informed it was for people to help with campaigning. Probably should have had a different name but I had been invited to several of these groups before the campaign started and Chris’ group wasn’t the first.

    Also agreed with ‘A. Politician’, not only are the rules on internet campaigning well confusing, they are impossible to police effectively.

    Much Love x

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