After the events of the past twenty-four hours, that is the headline that I would expect to see shortly. And why would that be?
I'm a Returning Officer with a lot of experience, especially of elections where there have been teams campaigning in support of a preferred candidate. In such circumstances, there is a golden rule - you, the candidate, are responsible for the acts of your campaign team, and will be held accountable for them. Normally, of course, this is an issue where selection rules have been broken, or opponents defamed.
Defaming third parties is not, as a rule, a problem, unless such behaviour is likely to bring the Party into disrepute, so the blaming of Mick Bates for Lembit's defeat in last year's General Election wouldn't generate more than minor regret from the perspective of a Returning Officer. After all, sacrificing your friends for personal advantage is not a breach of the Selection Rules, even if it is morally and ethically suspect. But when the candidate has to disassociate himself from such a claim, there is an issue.
Lembit claims that he did not read, and therefore was not responsible for, his manifesto, and would not have referred to Mick Bates in such a manner. Therefore, someone else wrote it and, given the record of Ed Joyce in referring to Mick in derogatory tones, now denounced by Lembit so publicly, implies that Ed is responsible. So, on that basis, having embarrassed the candidate, Ed should do the decent thing and withdraw from the campaign.
If he does not, then I call upon Lembit to remove Ed from his campaign team, on the grounds that, if he doesn't do so, he effectively condones such cowardly attacks on people he claims as friends. Unless, of course, Lembit believes them to be accurate, in which case he has lied to the Press. And which do you think would be more damaging in the long run?
Oh yes, and Ed, will you now be publicly apologising to Mick Bates?
And finally, there is a question for Lembit. If you are willing to allow your campaign team to 'slag off' your friends in a manifesto which you don't have time to supervise, or even read, that is to be issued to Party members across the nation's capital, does that demonstrate that you are a fit person to carry the Party's banner in a high-profile campaign?
I'm not a member of the London Liberal Democrats any more, but this would have done little to convince me that my Party was safe in his hands...