Tactics reminiscent of the Nazi propaganda minister are being used by Islington Lib Dems to oppose plans to rebuild a library, according to a Labour Councillor.
Finsbury Park councillor Phil Kelly, tweeted: “Lib Dems in Islington campaigning to keep open library, Council has no intention to shut – tactic straight from Rennard/Goebbels handbook.”
The remarks are in response to the Lib Dem opposition to the planned demolition of John Barnes Library, Camden Road. The site is being redeveloped to make way for 30 homes and a library.
Mr Kelly accused the Liberal Democrats of deliberately misleading the public in order to drum up support for the party ahead of the Junction and St George’s Ward by-elections on 21 March.
The former Islington mayor’s tweet refers to Lord Rennard, who is facing claims he inappropriately touched a number of women — which he denies — and Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi minister of propaganda.
He said: “Rennard invented the tactic of saying anything in an election to get elected and of claiming credit for things that were going to happen and then saying it was ‘you what did it’. If you keep repeating something enough times people will believe it is the truth, which was borrowed directly from Joseph Goebbels.”
He added: “The Liberal Democrats are a bunch of clueless opportunists who will stop at nothing including lying to get elected. They will say anything to get votes.”
Councillor Paul Smith, campaign manager for Islington Labour, echoed Mr Kelly’s opinion. “Islington Labour has a very proud record of keeping libraries open despite the reduction in government funding by 38 per cent and we are very proud of making a difference in tough times.
It is very sad that the Liberal Democrats, who are part of the Tory-led government, are clearly desperate enough to say anything even though it is not true,” he said.
Islington council is planning to build a four-storey housing block on the site of Bramber House, on the Lower Hilldrop Estate. The John Barnes Library will be demolished and rebuilt under this block of flats. Built in 1971, the library is in need of repairs worth £218,000 due before 2017. A temporary library will be provided during construction.
Labour councillor James Murray said: “Islington is in desperate need of family homes for social rent, particularly while low income families bear the brunt of government cuts.
“These social rented homes will first be offered to local families under our local lettings scheme for new council housing – giving people better homes and tackling overcrowding.”
But residents in Kimble House, also on the Lower Hilldrop Estate, condemned the plans and many of them signed a petition against the scheme which Labour councillor Tracy Ismail handed in at a full council meeting in January. She said residents were not consulted on the plans.
The Lib Dem councillor for St George’s told Islington Now: “Labour planned the redevelopment in secret, two Liberal Democrat councillors were kept completely in the dark until the day before it was press released and even then there was little or no consultation.
“They say that the demolished John Barnes Library will go into the ground floor of the new development but at the same time councillor [Catherine] West said that all of Islington’s libraries were under threat and we could lose them all, obviously not knowing that local authorities have a statutory responsibility to provide library services.”
Ms Ismail also hit back at Mr Kelly’s remarks. She said: “In 2010 Labour got elected in Islington using the tagline that the Lib Dems paid themselves more than any other council in England. It took me about five minutes to find other councillors that earned more.
“It was a lie and Labour knew that but once a lie is in the public domain the damage is done. This wasn’t the only lie they put out in 2010 but they were desperate to control the council because they see Islington as their birthright.”