They call it Godwin’s Law: as an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches one. And before the internet, it was known as “reductio ad Hitlerum” – trying to beat an opponent in a debate by comparing them to Hitler.
Perhaps now we’ll have to call it Hemming’s Law, after the campaign against an elected mayor in Birmingham – led by Lib Dem MP John Hemming - produced an astonishing leaflet entitled “Brummies have always fought back against dictators – don’t elect one”. These words are printed against a picture showing a scene from the Blitz.
In the leaflet, according to the report by the Birmingham Post’s Jon Walker, the No Campaign produces a list of reasons to vote against having an elected mayor. They include:
- An elected mayor concentrates power in the hands of one individual who would rule as a dictator
- There is an old saying – ‘power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely’ – as regularly happens in America and Spain who have high profile mayors.
Ian Austin, the Labour MP who is campaigning for an elected mayor, was quick to condemn the leaflet, taking to Twitter to say:
The Nazis bombed Birmingham & killed thousands. These idiots compare that to a Mayor?
As the mayoral campaigns hot up in England’s largest cities, we can expect to see more of this type of spat.