Monday, 22 December 2008

Lib Dem love bombs

. Jennie Rigg has an interesting article on Liberal Conspiracy. She looks at the recent favourable coverage that the Liberal Democrats have been getting in the Conservative press. Specifically, she talks about Quentin Lett's in the Daily Mail. She could also have mentioned a recent editorial in The Times which was also glowing about Nick Clegg in particular.

I think Jennie is absolutely right about the motivation behind this 'love-bombing'; namely that the polls are getting tighter for the Conservatives and a hung-parliament is at the moment a very real prospect. Tactically, they want us to be able to unseat Labour MP's and convince our vote in Conservative seats that David Cameron is a friendly, viable option. Also, it is possible that they want to soften Lib Dem opinion to the prospect of a coalition or at least supporting a minority Conservative government.

So, I think right from the top we can dismiss these warm words as any indicator that our policies would be looked upon favourably by a Conservative government. We can see in both instances that the praise is selective; it is praise for Clegg doing things that both the papers find convivial to their agenda. I don't suspect many glowing Times editorials will be forthcoming about the 'Green Road out of Recession' for example, or our call to close tax loopholes for the rich.

Since these warm-words are selective and clearly politically motivated they mean precisely nothing to me in terms of making me think we should 'cosy-up' to the Conservatives. Jennie rightly says that this will have the reverse effect with 'soft-Labour' voters; our credibility with the Conservative press might actually reduce our credibility with this constituency. When phone canvassing I have been told that one way to establish which way reluctant people might vote is to ask them which party they would never vote for; if they say Conservative then they are obviously soft-Labour/Lib Dem and of course vice versa. The danger is that those type of people will start saying 'never Liberal Democrat' and we will lose ground.

On the other hand the publicity is welcome and the above is something that we can counter in our own publicity. So, to try and answer the three questions Jennie asks;

  • How long will it last?

I think the answer to this is simple; as long as the polls are this tight and a hung-parliament or slender Conservative majority is in the offing; if they enter landslide territory again then expect it to to stop.

  • Is it more of a problem than an opportunity?

Yes and no but it actually depends on what we do; if we 'play our cards right' then it can be an opportunity. If we simply bask in the publicity without trying to counter the spin then it will become a problem but if we build on the coverage by putting across our message in our voice then it is an opportunity.

  • How can we best capitalise on it to get Liberal issues into the forefront of the debate?

As I said above we need to make sure we are speaking with our own voice and not letting the Conservative press speak for us; so, for example, we can issue press releases welcoming positive coverage but correcting the potentially damaging spin.


Jennie said...

Thanks for the considered response, Darrell.

Darrell G said...

Your welcome :); it was nice to see you got the article published without having to go through the hoo-hah that you did over the response to Clegg one :)