The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Wooing Mr Clegg

Posted by The Futility Monster on January 5, 2010 @ 09:28

Let's see more of these! We love bar charts...

This morning Nick Clegg is having a moan about other parties suddenly reaching out to him, and trying to convince the electorate that, really, we’re all best friends and you couldn’t get a cigarette paper between everyone.

He’s right to point out that this is cynical behaviour on the part of the other parties, but he’d better get used to it.

Latest polling, as pointed out by Mike Smithson, is once again showing that the Tories are rock solid on 40%, with Labout and the Lib Dems fighting over the scraps. When one party gains, the other loses. It would seem, therefore, that as far as Labour are concerned, the Lib Dems are fighting on the same ground. It’d be hard to think of two more different parties: one statist, authoritarian and centrist, the other decentralising, liberal and genuinely progressive.

But it seems old traditions die hard. Voters are still thinking of these two parties as very close to one another. They were at one point, but times have changed significantly as the New Labour project has matured.

Of course, the point of this exercise is not to discuss potential coalition partners. It’s actually to make sure that there never has to be a coalition discussion at all. It’s a very underhanded way of stealing voters from the other side in the hope that you don’t actually have to work with them in any way. So much for friendship.

But what do the Tories have to gain from it? If they get 40%, they’re likely to be in power, but it will be a fairly tight Parliament. Every seat is vital, and it just so happens that there are quite a few Tory-Lib Dem marginals that could just tip the balance…

What’s the best Lib Dem fightback from this position, being ambushed from both sides by two parties whose only interest is in maintaining the status quo in the British political system?

If I were in Clegg’s shoes I would be looking to go on the offensive. It looks like he’s going to do that, but the best way would be to bear in mind the polling evidence showing that Labour are the biggest danger to his vote share.

Yet this strategy, gloriously for a third-party, has two-fronts, going opposite ways. First, emphasise to old centre-left voters that Labour is not the party of the working class. That Labour has sold its soul for 13 years in power. That while they have brought some support, like the minimum wage, they have been more interested in being in-hock to bankers and big business.

Meanwhile, an attack on the Tories should not be out of the question. Clegg needs to provide a narrative in those Lib Dem-Tory marginals to keep the activists fired up. But in doing so he will also convince those soft Labour voters that the Lib Dems aren’t the Tories in disguise. Win-win, some might say.

Either way, we need to be in the news a lot during this pre-election period, as it will be far too easy for the media to ignore us and concentrate on the same old duopoly. We’ll only do so by staying resolutely on the front foot.

Hope the Lib Dem media machine is going to be on top form this election…

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