Friday, 8 March 2013

Critique for Hannah

Why should people vote Lib Dem?

The framing, this is about why people should turn up in 2015 and vote for a Lib Dem candidate versus a Labour or Tory one. Let's refocus slightly, Labour have published their targets for seats, and only 16 are Lib Dems. By contrast the Tories are targeting less seats (concentrating on holding on to their own!) but 20 of them are Lib Dem. Indeed where the Tories are in power they have a number, maybe as much as a dozen or so, that are in danger of falling to the Lib Dems.

Why won't they fall, if they don't? Because as the Ashcroft polling has shown us, around half of the vote at this time appears it is leaving the party, the vast majority to Labour. This will be a combination of protest/tactical voters returning to their party and others disenfranchised. If this happens Tories will still win because the vote gets split.

So... long story short...it's not why should "people" vote lib dem, but rather why should Labour supporters continue their tactical support, why they should give Lib Dems a look in, and why should wavering Tory voters switch sides. Votes switching to UKIP and the likes don't matter (and are certain to be lost causes for the large part), mainly because they will split the vote of your opposition more than they'll hurt you.

Like many people, my support for the Liberal Democrats wavered in 2010. I felt betrayed, as if the values I’d once stood for had been eroded. It took me a while to come to terms with the fact that whilst the Lib Dem’s were in Government, they didn’t win the election. What they did was put aside the petty political tribalism that alienates so many from politics.

I think this is nonsense but for Lib Dems they do believe it's true. The danger is that labour voters don't. It is one of the things, however, that Labour seem to agree with more than other "positive" lib dem traits, so it's (for now) still a good line it seems.

They ensured that Britain had a stable govt. in a time of economic uncertainty. They ensured that an austere Conservative cabinet had a fierce vein of liberalism running through it.

The idea that a fierce vein of liberalism is running through the government may well be contested strongly at your conference this weekend. Ashcrofts poll shows even a majority of Lib Dems think the party has abandoned it's principles. As a party that is led by it's members, this is pretty shocking. The mood is definitely not that the Lib Dems are sticking up for liberalism right now.

Secret Courts, not putting the immediate stop to the snoopers charter, doing nothing on the digital economy act, reducing access to legal process for the poor, failing to veto a cut in benefits leading to a real terms lengthening of the poverty gap...this is not fierce liberalism, and further to your later points has nothing to do with fairness either.

Anecdotal, if any Lib Dem tried to win me over for a return vote for Lib Dems in 2015, this would put me off, it'd show they aren't in touch with the realities of what they've done and the sour taste they've put in the mouths of people with no other place to go within the liberal lobby. Just my two pennies.

Remember, your voters that you're trying to win over are those that are loose Labour voters now, and those that are on the more socially liberal edge of the Tory party. Does blowing smoke up the exec's ass about being a force for liberalism when actually it has failed convince those voters that they should give Lib Dems another shot at the ballot?

I mean this as a question and not a fact, but I assume that no-one is going to fall for the broad assertion made without something that truly backs it up, and I'm afraid that the Lib Dems don't really have many examples of where they've actually put liberalism at the heart of policy since 2010.

Imagine if the Liberal Democrats had stayed on the opposition benches in 2010.

· The tax threshold wouldn’t have been raised to £9,440, saving 24 million working people £600.
· The Conservatives would have cut inheritance tax for millionaires.
· There wouldn’t have been an extra £2.5billion targeted at helping the least well-off pupils in schools.
· There wouldn’t have been a ‘triple lock’ on pensions, which guarantees pensioners an above inflation rise in pensions every year. The biggest cash rise ever for the state pension.
· Local schools would be able to be run by for profit by private companies.

Personally I think this is a load of nonsense, but the polling from Ashcroft shows that probably the greatest asset the Lib Dems have is the blocking of Tory policy when it comes to showcasing their strengths to Labour voters.

Would the current government be more, or less fair without the Liberal Democrats?

Good question, you don't seem to answer it though :) This is *really* important since only 35% of 2010 labour voters think you're being fair. If you are, you need to remind them why. As it stands people overwhelmingly think Labour are the party of fairness, including a significant proportion of Lib Dem voters from 2010.

The Conservatives can’t be trusted to create a fairer society. They can’t be trusted to look after the needs of normal people. They can’t be trusted to not bend to the needs of the super-rich who fund their party.

Why not? If I was a voter you're targeting and I'm Labour then I already know this, and I'm currently not voting for you. What difference does this make? If I'm a Tory, how does this get me on your side?

And Labour? It’s because of them that Britain was nearly bankrupted. They binged on borrowing until the deficit was at a startlingly high rate. They can’t be trusted with the economy. Their decade in power showed them caring more about bankers and media bosses than ordinary working people.

Whoa, whoa, whoa. Aside from the economy argument being a poisoned chalice the longer this government goes on, Labour are ultimately your ALLIES at the 2015 general election. Don't go around saying how horribly out of touch and stupid they are, because that doesn't exactly make friendly happy times happen.

What's important is that thanks to the Tories opposition to AV (ignore Labour's involvement for a minute), there are areas where Labour are unlikely to win, and that those that can win are the Lib Dems...but they can't beat the Tories without Labour voters helping them out directly.

We know from Ashcroft polling that most people want a Labour or a Labour led coalition in 2015 (57% of them). Everything about Lib Dem strategy in 2015 should be about playing in to this...most likely in a subtle way in the sense they don't want to put off Tory strategic voters either.

A lot of this is going to depend on what the central strategy is, but the best shot Lib Dems have in 2015 is obviously another hung parliament...wouldn't a "we like this about the Tories, but we like this about Labour, but we're needed to stop X and Y from either" message be a) more mature and resonate with those that still rate Lib Dems for being above party politicking and b) ruffle less feathers of those that are undecided but still faintly loyal to red or blue?

A vote for the Liberal Democrats is not a vote for the Conservatives.

This isn't going to fly without giving something very concrete on this. The majority of tories and labour supporters think you've not managed to change the course of Tory policies, nor inject your own stamp on policy direction. (though Tories are more sympathetic...or is that frustrated...on the issue of Lib Dems being able to stand in their way)

It’s a vote to continue threading liberalism throughout Britain. It’s a move towards mature politics. The kind of politics that doesn’t involve bitter sniping in Parliament by politicians bubbled away from the real world.

I know this is a brief "why vote" leaflet, but still no real evidence or reasons here. What about Clegg being the first member of a cabinet to put himself on the line for live call in radio to be accountable on a regular basis to voters? Examples, examples! Remind, and more importantly, educate people that there is something different about the way Lib Dems are approaching politics.

The Liberal Democrats aren’t over as a party.

"They're not over? What? Does that mean they're struggling then, why would they need to try and convince us they're not over?"

Basically...don't say this, it insinuates that there is a legitimate rhetoric that the Lib Dems are on the way out, and gives it that legitimacy through reference.

We want to keep ensuring that Britain is as fair as we can possibly make it. We want to keep on proving to people that they weren’t wrong to trust us with their vote.

We want to carry on building a stronger economy in a fairer society.

And we need your support to do that.

OK, I think I'd drop this last line, maybe this last section here needs to be phrased more along the lines of "With your vote" rather than "we want". Link those outcomes to their action, rather than their vote being an enabler to whatever the Lib Dems wish to do, however that may change.

Other notes:

Over all I think it would be wise to recognise that there is still, albeit not in majority, a regard for the lib dems as a party that has it's heart in the right place, and has the potential to be different. The above, for me, doesn't market that image whatsoever. It paints them as very traditional in politics, very partisan and overly negative on the other parties. With the Lib Dem vote share I don't know if being negative rather than constructively criticising the other parties is more of a help than a hindrance.

The party must know that differentiation is going to be the key to their campaign, so it must be in your interest to show that you can seek out and promote that differentiation. It will be the attitude and focus the campaign team needs, showcase that you have that angle covered.

Where is the talk about local Lib Dems being good for the constituents? The Eastleigh campaign was bouyed by the fact that a) most people voted for their best local candidate and b) most people thought that was Mike.

In the Ashcroft polling we also see that out of all the factors the most persusive argument for Labour and Tory voters is that their local candidate is a good'un if they were open to voting Lib Dems "tomorrow"! This is the closest indication to what is a strong message to those wavering.

On another issue, and without the nod from the campaign team it's hard to justify, it's clear that what voters want to hear, certainly Lib Dem and Labour voters...but even an interesting number of Tory voters, is vocal opposition to Tory policies. Putting forward policies that the Tories wouldn't usually? even better! (25% of Tory voters would see Lib Dems more favourably if they did this, insanity!)

Did you know that while people favour Lib Dem/Labour alliance, they don't trust the current party (Clegg, the members) to choose Labour over the Tories as much as they personally would prefer it? Interesting to note, I thought.

Anyway, I'm digressing now...end.