Love-Bombing the Lib Dems


12:11 am - December 22nd 2008

by Jennie Rigg    


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Something that my lovely fiancé has been predicting for a while has started to happen: Tory journalists are being worryingly nice to the Lib Dems. To some extent, this is function creep from Vince Cable’s elevation from third party economics spokesman to all-knowing prophet of everything. Only Robert Peston comes close to Vince’s level of respectedness on the economy now, and I don’t think that can be undervalued. But that isn’t a full explanation for what has been happening over the last few days. Tory journalists aren’t being grudgingly nice about Lib Dem politicians, they are actively lauding them. The Award-Winning Alix Mortimer spotted Quentin Tw… Quentin Letts doing it the other day, but what really brought it home to me was when we finally got around to watching the This Week Christmas Special tonight.

Take a look at the year in review segment. Try hard to weather Quentin discussing Gordon Brown’s buttocks (there has to be slash fiction in that) and wait for the final third, where they all discuss Clegg: both Letts and arch-Tory Nick Robinson are particularly nice – I nearly choked on my Blue Nun when Robinson (who was so horrendously misrepresentative of Clegg’s performance at conference) described him as Youthful, Charismatic, and looking increasingly likely to make a breakthrough. But that’s not as worrying for me as agreeing with both of Letts’ points.

So why is this happening now? Six months ago, it looked like the Tories were a shoo-in for the next election. The polls were showing huge leads. The Tory press could therefore afford to be pretty disparaging of us Lib Dems, and they were. Now, things are a bit different. The polls are a lot closer, and it’s looking like a tiny Tory majority, or even a hung parliament. To get Labour out, Tory journalists need to make us look more credible, because there are some seats in which the Tories trail a distant third, but they still need to unseat a Labour MP. Thus, Tory-supporting journalists are suddenly starting to be rather pleasant about the Lib Dems.

While it’s rather nice to be in the unprecedented situation of having Tories be pleasant to one, it does also raise some problems. For example, Tory journalists are pushing the completely fictitious lurch to the right meme (which has been debunked many times by contributors to this site) because it will appeal to their readers/listeners, but other people are picking up on it as well. Soft Labour supporters, who might consider voting Lib Dem if they ever actually paid us any attention, are being turned off us because the first they hear of us is that we have lurched to the right. And, of course, many lefties will have a similar reaction to myself to the pontifications of Quentin Tw… Letts. If he is saying nice things about someone, then they must be awful. Who’d want to vote for someone supported by him?

Clearly, then, the situation presents problems. But clearly, it also presents opportunities. Tory papers sell in constituencies in which Tory support is tiny, because most people don’t even consciously consider the political biases of the papers they buy, and Lib Dem credibility being pushed there can only be good for the party. Being taken seriously by national journalists will seep into the public consciousness.

So this leaves me, as a Lib Dem, with three burning questions:

  1. How long is this situation likely to continue?
  2. Is it more of a problem or an opportunity?
  3. How can we best capitalise on it to get Liberal issues into the forefront of debate?

Do feel free to leave your answers in the comments…

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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Economy ,Lib-left future ,Libdems ,Media ,Our democracy ,Westminster

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Reader comments


“2. Is it more of a problem or an opportunity?
3. How can we best capitalise on it to get Liberal issues into the forefront of debate?”

Well, it’s an opportunity, clearly. As for capitalising…obviously keep flirting with the Tories, because as long as they think they’re in with a chance to go to bed with you as long as you keep showing some ankle, then they’ll keep writing nice things and…in an ironically self-defeatist way, walk themselves in to a situation of hung parliament as they hand over free publicity to the Lib Dem’s.

Seems, all told, to be a pretty stupid move by the Tory press if they wish to actually win the next election…in that sense I can’t be surprised if they get back to bashing you ASAP.

I haven’t flirted with Tories since my time in private education…

Lee, I think to an extent it’s to the press advantage regardless. The Mail and the Express still sell in cities like Sheffield, where Nick is very popular and the Tories, well, aren’t. Their readers vote Lib Dem. And Labour.

A huge number of people don’t even notice their paper is biased and/or think it’s biased for their party, even when it isn’t–read a study pre-Blair of how most Sun readers thought it was a Labour paper, upto and including the infamous ‘turn off the lights’ headline.

Ultimately, in those parts of the country where the Tories are dead in the water, they still sell papers. It’s to their advantage to present a viable anti-Labour option. What actually surprises me is not that it’s happening now, but that it’s taken them this long, the sales and marketing teams must’ve pointed out declining sales aren’t good, etc…

It actually does the Tory party no harm either. In seats where the Tories are fighting Labour the vote’ll go Tory anyway.

Obviously, from a pure partisan position, I think overall it’s a good thing. But in those areas where the party is appealing to soft Labour voters as the anti-Tory party, it’s not so good. Living as I do in one of those seats (again, the psephology here is all over the place), I share Jennie’s concerns about it being off putting.

But then I remember that most voters actually either don’t notice or don’t care. Still, it made a change to see serious mainstream pundits praising Clegg, the LD blogs do tend to be a bit negative, which given I’m nowhere close to his biggest fan does tend to annoy–it’s worse than the bloody fans who were convinced he could do no wrong during the election campaign.

Still, interesting times, and agreeing with Quentin Twat. I still feel a bit dirty.

Gah, forgot to tick the notify box–I wonder if that can be set to default to on?

I haven’t flirted with Tories since my time in private education…

Ahem!

Soft Labour supporters, who might consider voting Lib Dem if they ever actually paid us any attention, are being turned off us because the first they hear of us is that we have lurched to the right. ~ Jennie

Actually, it’s a modest lurch to the right that would endear me to the Lib Dems. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not a heartless factory-owning capitalist (they’re a myth anyway, there are no factories left), but I don’t want half-arsed socialism either.

Have blogged more extensively over at mine but in answer to your questions….

How long will it last?

I think the answer to this is simple; as long as the polls are this tight and a hung-parliament or slender Conservative majority is in the offing; if they enter landslide territory again then expect it to to stop.

Is it more of a problem than an opportunity?

Yes and no but it actually depends on what we do; if we ‘play our cards right’ then it can be an opportunity. If we simply bask in the publicity without trying to counter the spin then it will become a problem but if we build on the coverage by putting across our message in our voice then it is an opportunity.

How can we best capitalise on it to get Liberal issues into the forefront of the debate?

As I said above we need to make sure we are speaking with our own voice and not letting the Conservative press speak for us; so, for example, we can issue press releases welcoming positive coverage but correcting the potentially damaging spin.

In my view there are two power/economic blocks in the UK
Tory – international finance. When the Tory party was the party of estate owners there were far more members who had sense of noblesse oblige and loyalty to this country. When one’s wealth is derrived from owning an estate in this country one cannot physically transfer it oversees. Traditionally the Tory fought in the local regiments alongside men from where they were brought up- Carrington, Whitelaw and Pym were the last of this breed. Now The financiers of the Tory Party appear to be only loyal to this country with their stomach and not their heart. Hence the willingness to sell anything British to make money for themselves. The Tory and Labour Parties seem to show deference to those who may move their money out of this country and indifference to those who would die for it.
Labour- Government employee. Most of the Labour Party’s income comes from unions whose members are government employees. The more people work for the government, the more are members of unions, the more money unions receive and the more mone can be given to the Labour Party. The Americans have a term for this – Pork Barrel Politics.The Labour Party has totally failed to provide the resources to the armed forces for the wars which they have expected them to fight for this country.
Neither party seems to comprises MPs and/or their children who have fought for this country; so their patriotic jingoism appears somewhat hollow.

Liberal Democrat – Anyone who is self employed, runs a small business, works in a small business, has a craft, scientific or in engineering background; believes in a small wisely run state which delivers good quality healthcare and education but not as an excuse for employing vast numbers of mediocre middle class administrators to pry into the nooks and crannies of everyone’s life. As Gladstone said , “The Liberal trust the people touched with prudence”. Liberalism involves freedom of the individual and should provide the resources and encouragement to people to obtain the education, skills, health and willpower l to support themselves and the their family. The Liberal governmemnt should provide value for money when it comes to expenditure and should live within it’s means. A party which says judge us on results not words and which realises the aphorism” A road to hell is paved with good intentions”.

Charlie,

If you’re going to attack Labour, do have the decency to do it properly. I am a member of a public sector union, the Public and Commercial Service Union (PCS). It represents most civil servants below Grade 7 (more than 200,000 in total). It gives precisely nothing to the Labour Party (even if some of its leading players might privately want to). I’m also a Liberal Democrat in my spare time.

There is so much to attack Labour for, its attacks on our civil liberties, its failings on the economy, its timidity in terms of foreign policy, its weakness on the environment. But for the love of God, please don’t give them such an easy excuse to rubbish legitimate criticism by making demonstrably false accusations.

Glad someone else thinks Nick Robinson is biased. I switch him off when he does his reports, they are so pro Tory.

Charlie “The Americans have a term for this – Pork Barrel Politics.”

And most of the pork Charlie, is spent by the Right wing on the military industrial complex, which pours trillions of $’s into the pockets of predominately right wing supporters who constantly lecture about free markets, low taxes, and small govt. And under Bush, these companies don’t even have to compete for the money. It is handed out in ‘no bid’ contracts to selected firms loyal to Right wing politics. Socialism for the rich.

And most of the pork Charlie, is spent by the Right wing on the military industrial complex, which pours trillions of $’s into the pockets of predominately right wing supporters who constantly lecture about free markets, low taxes, and small govt. And under Bush, these companies don’t even have to compete for the money. It is handed out in ‘no bid’ contracts to selected firms loyal to Right wing politics. Socialism for the rich.

In fairness, Sally, most of the Pork goes on infrastructure pet-projects in the Senator’s home state (or arranging tax-breaks for investors). This has long been a measure of a national politician’s prowess (does he, ahem, bring home the bacon?).

Cheer up I still think the lot of a you are self besotted weather vanes who elevate having no opinion to the status of having all opinions . You labour under the delusion that no matter how stupefyingly unlikely the fancy dress no-one will know who it is . Sadly we do.
Traitors to the country and its democracy over Europe , New labour’s puppy for years who change their tone precisely when it look like New Labour was dead and will; change it again now . Tax raisers when it was de rigueur ,and now implausible tax cutters to cash in on anti Labour votes . Dismiss it if you like , but apart from a convenient focus of protest, and being keen on clearing up the dog shit locally, the only people who think there are Lib Dem Politics at all are its members . Why , because you do not understand trust . Imagine trying to achieve anything in business on the basis of what someone “said” . ..( I `m talking a foreign language here I know )

.Worse news , if anyone did take any interest they would like the Party keenest of mass immigration giving away sovereignty and contemptuous of just about every institution and tradition we hold dear even less. What I especially dislike is the mediaeval narrative invention required to forget the fact that the Liberal Party are just the soft left and this site proves it
There is a shift right ‘meme’ is there , well I wonder if Norman Baker will be revealing that he is as leftish as ever . Nope .Conservatives are not snuggling up to the perfidious Lib Dems it’s the other ways round . Clegg was picked to front hug -a Tory ads and you got caught out by events. Don’t worry you will all be socialists again next week or both or whatever…..


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  1. Jennie Rigg

    finds it very hard not to refer to Quentin Letts as Quentin Twat http://tinyurl.com/9bd5o2





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