Monday, January 23, 2023

Lib Dems' Blue Wall campaigning to focus on health

Liberals and Liberal Democrats have been trying to win affluent Conservative seats in the South of England ever since Orpington Man was discovered.

But give the media a catchy term like the 'Blue Wall' and our ambitions there become a news story and one that ican be regularly repeated.

The Blue Wall story in yesterday's Observer in that it identified a planned change in Lib Dem campaigning in those seats:

Lib Dem campaigners charged with securing a breakthrough in seats in the south-east are gathering in a Staffordshire hotel this weekend, as all the parties begin to sketch out their early general election planning. 

The group will be told that the usual tactic of targeting liberal Tory voters in affluent areas with messages about the economy will be dialled down, after the NHS crisis was found to be resonating significantly in these areas.

A 'message testing' operation in Hertfordshire surprised the campaign team as health issues dominated on the doorsteps. New mailshots across several south-east counties have already been drawn up, concentrating on A&E problems, ambulance waiting times and access to dentistry.

The inevitable Lib Dem 'source' told the paper that the feedback had been overwhelming:

"Even if people had not been impacted by NHS delays themselves, they knew someone who had been, and therefore they were angry about it too. It now looks like the 'blue wall' will be voting on health issues at the next election, not just the economy."

It's no surprise that even affluent voters think this way. With the economy still suffering from Brexit and other blows, fewer people can be confident of their ability to buy their way out of declining public services.

But does the party have the clear, attractive health policies that this approach will need? (I'm not being critical: this is a genuine enquiry.)

1 comment:

Matt Pennell said...

I guess there are two answers to this question - in the short term the Lib Dems have announced an Ambulance Recovery Plan to address the crisis in A & E response. To be fair to the party this builds on the concerns raised pro-actively by Helen Morgan during the North Shropshire by-election way back in 2021. The other current policy is a broader based plan for quicker appointment times, better recruitment and more resource going into training.

In the long term the Lib Dems health policy has the key differentior which is parity for Mental Health with physical health. In the context of a record seven million adults on anti-depressants and suicide being the No 1 cause of death for men under 50, we have to keep on banging the drum for this regardless of whatever events fill the news cycle.