Thursday, June 04, 2015

We need to decide who it is we hope will vote Liberal Democrat

Rafael Behr, winning our Opening Sentence of the Day Award in passing, says something we Liberal Democrats should bear in mind as we choose our new leader:
If knocking on doors and shoving pamphlets through letterboxes were efficient ways to change minds, Britain would have a lot more Jehovah’s Witnesses and a Labour government
I do not doubt that an awful lot of Focuses will have to be delivered if we are to see the revival we all want. But that we will not be enough.

As David Howarth emphasised in the immediate aftermath of 7 May, we need to have a clear idea of who the core Liberal Democrat vote is.

The strongest criticism I have of Nick Clegg's leadership is that he never had a clear idea of who he expected to vote for him.

In the days of Alarm Clock Britain he expected everyone to vote for him. By the time of the general election it was hard to tell who he had in mind.

Certainly, some of the people around him gave the impression that they had limited sympathy for the party's traditional voters.

I have not yet decided who I will vote for in the Lib Dem leadership election. When I do it will because one of the candidates has an answer to this question or, more realistically, has surrounded himself with people who do.

Rafael Behr's conclusion is about the Labour Party, but it may have lessons for us too:
There is a lot of talk about which old message to feed back through the machine in order to win lost voters. There is not enough about treating people in a less mechanistic way so they might want to listen to a new message; or, better still, help decide what the message should be.


asquith said...

Phil Beesley said...

Jonathan: "The strongest criticism I have of Nick Clegg's leadership is that he never had a clear idea of who he expected to vote for him."

Or perhaps we (a bit bigger than Clegg's team) have not understood our core vote. At the 2005 General Election, the Lib Dems maximised Lib Dem MP numbers from borrowed votes. It was a freak event owing to the Iraq war and the Lib Dems could not expect to hold onto all of those votes in 2010. The party did not know how to extend the core vote when given borrowed votes.

Anonymous said...

He failed to understand that his party's primary appeal was to the progressive centre left - and it has been since Grimond's time. He also failed to understand that the party's vote in the Celtic fringe was predominantly an anti-Tory one.

Either that or he just didn't care and opted for a few years with a ministerial car, regardless of the electoral consequences. I am inclined to believe the latter.