Wednesday, July 15, 2015

Time for a Liberal Democrat core vote strategy?

There was a good contribution to the debate on the future of the Liberal Democrats, and I don't mean Danny Alexander's effort in the New Statesman:
Neither Labour nor the Liberal Democrats should envisage a future as a sort of soggy Syriza in sandals. I don’t like some of the welfare reforms in the Budget, but to make it the political dividing line is to fail to recognise the views of most people.
I am thinking of the article by Martin Kettle in the Guardian.

He writes:
In a recent pamphlet David Howarth, a former MP, and Mark Pack, a prominent online activist, argued that their party should have a strategy of building a values-based centre-left core vote from the current single figure up to about 20%. They identify their target voters as: disproportionately female, young, educated to above degree level, inhabitants of London, on moderately higher than average incomes, serious newspaper readers, not religious and not white. 
Some of the HowarthPack argument stretches belief. Their core vote approach is essentially an appeal to a minority. Under the first-past-the-post system, it may win the party one or two student-heavy seats, but it may not do much for the Lib Dems in the seats they are left with, never mind in places like the south-west where they were so strong until recently. But they are surely correct that the right place for a liberal party to pitch its tent is among liberal-minded voters,
Simon Titley, who died last year, was fond of calling for a core-vote strategy. He argued that the fact that the Liberal Democrats worked harder than the other parties, like the belief that we could win anywhere, should be seen as a weakness rather than a strength. Why did we have to put so much effort into reminding people that they voted for us last time?

On the East Midlands segment of the Sunday Politics a few days ago, Paul Homes expressed scepticism at a Lib Dem core vote strategy. Hadn't it held both the Conservatives and Labour back in recent history.

What both those parties found was that appealing to their core vote kept them stuck at around 30 per cent of the vote. And that is a figure that the Liberal Democrats hardly dare dream about at the moment.

1 comment:

Mark Pack said...

I think your last sentence is spot on Jonathan - a larger core vote is a much better starting point.

If anyone else wants to read David and my pamphlet it's here: Building a core vote for the Lib Dems: the 20% strategy