Monday, 29 December 2008

Are we ready for a 2009 election??

. Chris Rennard has written to us all; considering the financial distress this year for the Liberal Democrats I can understand a certain 'obsession' with money.The section that most interested me was where he talked about the prospects for a general election in 2009. He says;

"You're probably reading some of the speculation about the date of the next General Election. I have been discussing possible timings with Nick Clegg and the Shadow Cabinet. Certainly we have to be ready."

He ranks a general election in 2009 as being "quite possible". I agree with this analysis and would make such an event as being top of my domestic political predictions for 2009. Events if nothing else point at the very least to the distinct possibility, the economy; the prospect of significant backbench rebellions, the light legislative program and maybe even the budding crisis in the Middle East will play a part.

So, in terms of preparedness where do we sit as a party?? Of course, the possibility of answering that question is somewhat skewed by the fact that some people don't see the need to be prepared at all. However, it is possible to look at a few indicators. Returning to the Middle East for the moment I think it is fair to characterise our response as virtually non-existent (whatever you feel that response should actually be). William Hauge today made some running in calling for an 'immediate ceasefire' so where, we ask with great interest, has been our response??

When a big news story like this breaks people look instinctively for comment and politicians and political parties to take a lead. The fact that we have so little to say is not awe-inspiring. Moving onto the polls, Stephen Tall has a thoughtful piece on Liberal Democrat Voice. He makes some points that are valid about why our rather low ratings may not be a harbinger of doom. However, to my mind none of them negate the fact that a squeeze is still a distinct possibility. Pre-election polls establish momentum and if we enter an election looking like a shrill voice in the wilderness then the media will treat us as such; largely because of the absence of a guaranteed platform like a leaders debate the media still sets the agenda in an election campaign.

I suspect the media narrative for the next election will be a ideological smashdown between the 'big two' and we have to find a way to counter that; or else our current lack of media oxygen will carry-on over into an actual election campaign. Nick Clegg surely recognises this and this is why when speaking on the BBC's 'World at One' program said that he would like poll ratings to be higher.

In terms of infrastructure it seems that like Stephen says where we are strong we will be able to 'fight a good fight' however, it would be complacent to say that means we could still increase our representation. In those areas we will be engaged in bitter defensive struggles to hold onto what we have; so, the energy and prospects for advance elsewhere become narrower. If an election is held in 2009 then it is my belief that we will not be that well placed (one hopes we would be in 2010 but who knows). So, what are other peoples experiences? Are we ready to go to the polls in 09??


wit and wisdom said...

No chance of an election in 2009 so the question is academic for the moment. However, prospects of a squeeze are pretty high and cause for concern. It's a shame because we're doing and saying the right things but no one wants to listen.

Plus ca change...

Darrell G said...


Que sera sera on the prospects of an election; it's not a huge issue of principle or anything. You don't think it is likely, I do. One of us will be right and the other wrong and only time will tell. :)

You are right it is a shame...however, like I do say we havent had an awful lot to say this week on the big news so it's not just that no one wants to's when we could be saying things that engage with the peoples imagination by commenting on events that are in focus we don't sometimes....