Friday, April 22, 2005

Vote Liberal: Get Liberal

Here is today's Election Points column from the estimable Liberal Democrat News.

Gone to the blogs

When Labour supporters run out of arguments why you should support their party, there is one they fall back on. Put crudely, it runs “Vote Lib Dem, get Tory”.

It has cropped up in recent columns by Johann Hari, Polly Toynbee and Nick Cohen. As a website I saw the other day said, it is the equivalent of Squealer in Animal Farm telling everyone that if they did not support Comrade Napoleon they would have Farmer Jones back.

Thanks to a posting on Nick Barlow’s blog What You Can Get Away With (, we know that this argument is nonsense.

A ‘blog’, in case you are wondering, is a weblog. A website where individuals record their thoughts and experiences. Political blogs provide a rich source of debate and new arguments – just the sort of explosion in publishing it was hoped computers would bring about. A good starting point is the digest of blogs by Liberal Democrat supporters at

Anyway, what Nick shows is that no amount of Labour supporters switching to the Liberal Democrats will lead to a Conservative government. Assuming that the Tory vote stays the same, a 5 per cent swing from Labour to the Lib Dems would still see a comfortable majority for Blair. And a 10 per cent swing would bring about a majority Labour government too.

Not even a 15 per cent swing would see Michael Howard in Downing Street. Nick calculates that it would produce 280 Labour MPs, 230 Tories and 107 Lib Dems. And if we got an even bigger swing from Labour it would start winning us Tory seats too.

In short, no amount of Labour supporters switching to us will produce a Tory government. The truth is “Vote Lib Dem, get Lib Dem”.


We have a little time before the snooker, so here are a couple of thoughts for the second half of the campaign.

First, as a tribute to Donald James Kennedy, Anon.’s observation that “politicians are like nappies – they should be changed regularly and for the same reason”.

Second, Winston Churchill on Stanley Baldwin: “He occasionally stumbled over the truth, but hastily picked himself up and hurried on as if nothing had happened”.

You may just feel that has some contemporary resonance.

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