22 September 2009

Clegg's nay good

Well the Lib Dem conference is well under way, and it seems they are shifting leftwards with noises about super-rich property taxes and delaying the scrapping of tuition fees - maybe to capitalise on the Labour vote as the Tories cover everything else, that's the only reason I can think for it

I find that Andrew Neil is in broad agreement with me - the Libs have turned on the Tories because they are now the principal threat, Labour are dead in the water

But they need more on the ground - despite Labour's losses the Libs make no gains, their appeal to the more middle-class liberal (or 'soft tory') is very limited, and I would guess they are after Labour's leftie seats, as the Tories are making inroads on even their seats in the south-west

To my mind the Libs face a natural struggle - in an adversarial system there will always be two major parties occupying the mainstream, the third is a niche, a protest, which few see as realistic

But politically their best bet is to replace Labour, the Tories have the right well covered - the left are ripe for the picking

But that unfortunately seems to mean an ideological shift into Labour territory - using leftist arguments to attract former socialists

Only that means they risk abandoning their actual liberal supporters - the old rump in this country who support personal freedom, if they do shift leftwards then they will push their most reliable votes into the Tories' waiting arms

What they should be doing is appealing to former Labour seats with the liberal message - if the BNP can capitalise on promoting themselves to Labour heartlands, why can't the Libs? This is a chance to properly defeat Labour, there are new generations who have no experience of the unions and are far more politically open after 13 years of bollocks, but if Clegg is just going to pander to old leftie arguments then he will just be keeping seats warm for Labour when they return from the wilderness, while isolating his own base

I don't regard myself as a Lib Dem but of the big three I am most certainly closest to them - moves like this will only push people like me towards the Tories (although I personally have no intention of voting for Cameron's lot) and I believe there are a few things the Libs have to do to become popular

First, take a look at this poll (thanks to Ollie Cromwell for highlighting it)

As you can see - the Lib Dems are liked, but Cameron-lite Clegg is not - he is dragging the party down - Vince Cable is far more recognised than him, and I don't believe their tactic of having Vince as second-in-command next to a charismatic young leader is working - where is Charlie Kennedy when you need him?

Secondly - if they ever want power then they need to drop the EU thing, I'm wasting my breath here - but if they ever want to attract the broad sentiment of this population then they need to be seen as anti-EU, even if they aren't - the Tories somehow magically capitalise on anti-EU sentiment despite being broadly for it

All I would ask is that the Libs bang on about Lisbon - you have to oppose Lisbon to get anywhere in this climate, they don't have to be UKIP, but they need to be more sceptical to win over the right, who are the majority here - they need to appeal to the moderates on the right - fairness, less tax, less bureaucracy, more civil liberties, electoral reform

Proper liberals in a word - which is hard when the Tories have gradually absorbed much of liberal ideology while having to remain socially conservative to keep the older sheep voting for them

Liberals have been getting a raw deal in this country for too long, sort it out, Clegg

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