Tuesday, December 14, 2004

How not to beat the Lib Dems

There is a thoughtful posting in the uk.politics.electoral newsgroup occasioned by this article in the Birmingham Post where Peter Hain reveals his fear that "disillusioned Labour voters could hand 11 Midland seats to the Conservatives by defecting to the Liberal Democrats".

The newsgroup poster "hotelier" writes:

I think Peter Hain is correct to be worried about natural Labour supporters voting Lib Dem. I may be one myself. But it seems to me that Labour are going about enticing us back in exactly the wrong way. They portray the Lib Dems as soft on crime in that civil liberties are important to them.

The trouble is we know that and agree with that analysis. That's why we're considering voting for them.

It may well be that those holding liberal views on crime and civil liberties are in a minority in Britain. But it is a sizeable minority and it includes many people who did not vote Liberal Democrat at the last election. If Labour wants to push them towards us we should thank our good fortune.

It does reinforce the impression that the Lib Dems are remarkably fortunate in the tactics their opponents are using. Not only are the Conservatives obsessed with Ukip and happy to ignore the voters they are losing to us, they have now gifted us the status of being the only party which is opposed to compulsory identity cards.

At the next election this will be a high-profile and easily understood issue. It may be a minority concern but, as "hotelier" argues, it is an issue that will appeal to precisely those people - disillusioned liberal Blair supporters - whose votes we are trying to attract.

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