If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015


9:10 am - September 25th 2012

by Sunny Hundal    


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There is near-certainty on the Left that the Libdems will be wiped out at the next election. There is also near-certainty within the Labour party that many Libdem voters who don’t identity with them any more won’t go back to them.

I think these assumptions are flawed for various reasons.

One is that the Libdem vote has started to become more clustered in areas where they have a significant local presence. So even if their share of the vote collapses nationally, they may hang on to a fair number of locally popular MPs.

Secondly, I suspect there are quite a few ‘shy-Libdem’ voters – people who may vote for them but won’t admit this to pollsters because Nick Clegg is so culturally toxic (there is a Tory precedent from the 1990). I don’t think it’s huge but I suspect it’s there.

More importantly, I think Libdems will be able to tempt back a significant share of voters that have abandoned them. How?

I imagine that by 2014 it will become painfully obvious to the Libdems that Nick Clegg remains a toxic figure. A leadership challenge will be mounted on the argument that he’s pushing away a lot of potential Libdem voters, and Vince Cable or Tim Farron will be crowned leader.

Then they could craft such a pitch below to soften up voters and tempt them back.

* * * * * * * * * *

Dear voters,

If you voted for us in 2010, or didn’t, here is why we think you should vote for the Liberal Democrats.

We had little choice
In 2010 we had little choice to go into Coalition with the Tories. We said before the election we would work with the largest party, to deal with the national debt crisis, and we did. We were a minority partner so a lot of policies we advocated for in the past did not get pushed through. But we did push a range of Libdem policies nevertheless.

We also criticised the Tories relentlessly for their ‘Tea Party tendencies’ and inserted Liberal values into the national conversation [attempts to differentiate themselves began in 2012 and is full-blown now]. We made progress on key issues such as taking lower-paid people out of tax, on green jobs, infrastructure spending and more.

Yes we made mistakes, and unlike the other parties we had the guts to apologise.

Why vote for same New Labour?
The Labour party you see in opposition is the same party you rejected in the past. They haven’t changed. They are now pledging to match Coalition’s cuts – showing that we were right to pursue that strategy [this is a sleight of hand but they'll say this anyway].

Ed Miliband’s Labour party are the same as Gordon Brown’s Labour party. They have said nothing about protecting our civil liberties. They have little about the environment, while we took on Tory climate denial. They say nothing about reducing taxes on low earners while we fought in govt to make that happen. They offer the same vision of society as Gordon Brown did in 2010. Why vote for them? Are they really offering you something new? They opposed Lords Reform. They opposed AV. They aren’t reformers at all.

Restraining influence on other parties
If the Libdems get enough seats we can be a restraining influence on the Conservatives or the Labour party. Do you really want either of them in power with a majority, with no one to check their illiberal tendencies?

Supporting us is no longer a protest vote. It is a vote to ensure that neither of the major parties do not realise their wild excesses in government.

* * * * * * * * * *

All those three pitches will soften up the ex-Libdem vote. A change in leader will too, the polls already show it.

My point is that Labour tribalists assume left-Libdems will obviously move to the Labour party. But this can’t be taken for granted at all. I was sympathetic to Labour before I even joined the party (I even delivered leaflets for a Labour candidate in 2010 despite voting Libdem).

But there are plenty of left-Libdem voters who are highly suspicious of the Labour party. They may indicate to pollsters now that they don’t intend to vote Libdem, but closer to the election they could quite easily re-think that decision if they hear nothing genuinely new from Labour.

Taking their collapse for granted is not just complacent but somewhat arrogant. The Labour party will have to fight hard for their votes. And it must start doing so now.

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About the author
Sunny Hundal is editor of LC. Also: on Twitter, at Pickled Politics and Guardian CIF.
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Story Filed Under: Blog ,Labour party ,Libdems ,Westminster

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Reader comments


There’s always not voting, or spoiling your ballot to factor into ‘what people might do come election time’. It’s my current plan since my options will be limited between the three main bunch of scumbags because it’s a Con safe seat.

2. Chaise Guevara

Is anyone going to buy the “restraining influence” line after the last couple of years?

The thing is, I voted for LibDems in the last general election with the sole purpose of them acting a restraining method for whichever party took government. So far they’ve failed to curb Tory excesses. They’ve had their chance to show that they can keep government in check, short answer, they can’t.

I don’t think the Lib Dems will be pitching themselves as a party which will “nsure that neither of the major parties do not realise their wild excesses in government”- that’s just admitting they are only ever going to be the junior partner in a coalition and that has not served them well so far.

I agree that Labour is not going to be the natural choice for a lot of these disgruntled Lib Dem voters. But I think that many will go Green rather than stick with the Lib Dems.

Sunny

Incumbency will undoubtedly play a role in shoring up the LD vote and in Con/LD contests, UKIP votes taken from the Tories may help them as well.

However, the Lib Dems will still be regarded by large numbers of people with contempt, as a Party that, in exchange for grasping eagerly at a chance of power, share the responsibility for the attempted destruction of the NHS and the savage cuts that, by the time of a GE, will have caused untold misery for millions of people.

Ed was pro AV, and lords reform they abstained as it was stupid that a 15 year term that if some one was naughty ,they couldn’t be ousted

1

I suspect that you are correct, since the emergence of New Labour, there isn’t a hair’s breadth between the parties, we can no longer assume the sort of swing voting which became the norm since the immediate post-war, politics have changed.

The tories, in my view, could still manage to squeeze a small majority based on the apathy of a large number of the voting population, furthermore, tory voters are known to consistently turn out and vote in all elections. Cameron’s excuse for the mess, that we will invariably be in come 2015, will be that he was constrained by the libdems.

Why is Danny Alexander lambasting Labour in his conference speech? What a negative view on the previous administration – yes there were problems but he was ridiculous just now! He sounds like a proper TORY! It is agony following the Lib Dems!

I would take some convincing to vote labour again, but there’s always the greens who have some very good policies.

There are a number of reasons to believe that labour are near to their “natural” peak –
1 we are approaching mid-term when oppositions traditionally do best & the libdems worst.
2 barring accidents, it looks like we are at the bottom of the economic cycle.
3 at some point all those labour commissions must come up with some actual policies, with the inevitable winners & losers.
4 the far-left/unions are getting very little publicity right now, that will change.

If you want a sense of just how soft the labour vote is the consider the recent polling that suggests half of all labour voters dont actually want ed
as PM. Enjoy it while it lasts.

I would not vote libdem while the orange bookers are in charge. Their ideology does not fit with mine. I feel the libdems are no longer the party of the left. I don’t think there is a party of the left any more, so I would have no idea who to vote for.

I feel completely disillusioned with politics and politicians. The current electoral system, and the whip system, and the influence of lobbyists ensure that those that ‘represent’ the electorate, really don’t.

As far as I can see, only the wealthiest in this country are represented at this time.

I think this is quite a reasonable analysis. The big question is what Labour come up with, as I’m sure they’ve made the same calculations.

Just how much can Miliband do, whatever his intentions, with the material he has to work with?

I think there will be huge regional variations in the Lib Dem vote depending who they are facing.

In Scotland they are finished. The Tories are so Toxic any association will finish a party. I wouldn’t be surprised if Charles Kennedy is the only survivor
(Assuming of course they have not voted for independence in 2014!!) The Scots Nats will pick up many of the seats in a pro/anti Labour contest. But despite their differences the Scts Nats and Labour could probably work together at Westminster.

In the North and where labour are strong contenders I think most of the people who abandoned Labour from 2003 will return along with all of the left of centre anti-Tory Lib dems. getting in excess of the 10% boost we have seen in the Polls

In the South West and where Labour are a poor third, I think Labour voters would stick with the Lib Dems IF Nick was dumped and quite a few would even hold their noses if the Lib Dems made a firm “work with the largest party” pledge (remember the Lib Dems won’t be allowed to ignore the post election landscape like they were in 2010, they will have to give a concrete promise [Lib Dem & Promise an oxymoron?] about who they will join and on what basis). But this will harm the Tories most…

14. ex-Labour voter

Whilst their record in office is truly abysmal, we should not want to see them wiped out at the next election.

Most seats that they lose would go to the Conservative Party. And they are also the principal challenger in many Conservative seats.

I find it hard to believe that those who voted Lidbdem didn’t realsie that they’d go into coaliton with the tories so the libdems of 2010 haven’t changed either,

Libdems have always been cloth capped tories, remember john thurso, david alton, Cyril smith all of whoms’ second choice was tory.


Reactions: Twitter, blogs
  1. Jason Brickley

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/9PYzTQP3

  2. Tyron Wilson

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/wGSjXsOb < piece I wanted to write for ages

  3. BMetAlevelPolitics

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/wGSjXsOb < piece I wanted to write for ages

  4. eileen

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/wGSjXsOb < piece I wanted to write for ages

  5. leftlinks

    Liberal Conspiracy – If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/bIDENdfK

  6. Carl G

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/wGSjXsOb < piece I wanted to write for ages

  7. Abu Sultan

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/wGSjXsOb < piece I wanted to write for ages

  8. MerseyMal

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/wGSjXsOb < piece I wanted to write for ages

  9. sunny hundal

    How the Libdems could tempt back voters who hate Clegg in 2015 > http://t.co/wGSjXsOb

  10. Clare Jordan

    How the Libdems could tempt back voters who hate Clegg in 2015 > http://t.co/wGSjXsOb

  11. Lee Griffin

    Lib Dems: sign @sunny_hundal up in PR ;) Good to see a labour supporter agreeing that Labour are resting on laurels http://t.co/qqFuMlO1

  12. Martyn Norris

    RT @sunny_hundal How the Libdems could tempt back voters who hate Clegg in 2015 > http://t.co/OvIj6wqa <= wicker man?

  13. Kris

    Sunny Hundal: Labour should pander to me RT @libcon If Labour doesn't listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/TLNwG41L

  14. Alex Braithwaite

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/bulvtxuF via @libcon

  15. eileen

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/PTujwkyC

  16. BevR

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/7VigJKAa via @libcon

  17. BevR

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/IEcOhBSd

  18. Collin Whittaker

    “@libcon: If Labour doesn't listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/hJ69yryP”@UKLabour @Ed_Miliband

  19. TheCreativeCrip

    No chance … RT @leftlinks: Liberal Conspiracy – If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/GQ3cywcW

  20. sunny hundal

    Lib Dems: sign @sunny_hundal up in PR ;) Good to see a labour supporter agreeing that Labour are resting on laurels http://t.co/qqFuMlO1

  21. Eugene Grant

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/HL6ZbsDU via @libcon

  22. Eugene Grant

    If #Labour doesn’t listen, the #Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/HL6ZbsDU > absolutely spot on.

  23. ian fielding

    If #Labour doesn’t listen, the #Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/HL6ZbsDU > absolutely spot on.

  24. Damian Thompson

    Don't often say this, but this analysis by @sunny_hundal of Lib Dem voters is absolutely spot on http://t.co/lzFLJ544

  25. Michael Smith

    Don't often say this, but this analysis by @sunny_hundal of Lib Dem voters is absolutely spot on http://t.co/lzFLJ544

  26. sunny hundal

    Don't often say this, but this analysis by @sunny_hundal of Lib Dem voters is absolutely spot on http://t.co/lzFLJ544

  27. Oliver Hotham

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 http://t.co/jVtPMMwD Spot on analysis by @sunny_hundal

  28. Abu Sultan

    If Labour doesn’t listen, the Libdems could make a comeback in 2015 | Liberal Conspiracy http://t.co/lYvaXyid via @libcon

  29. NORBET

    Anyway, if you're interested, I think the Libdems CAN make a come-back in 2015. Here's how http://t.co/PeVZ0YdE

  30. Wendy Hibbs

    Don't often say this, but this analysis by @sunny_hundal of Lib Dem voters is absolutely spot on http://t.co/lzFLJ544

  31. Lauren Harrison

    Anyway, if you're interested, I think the Libdems CAN make a come-back in 2015. Here's how http://t.co/PeVZ0YdE

  32. Freddy

    Don't often say this, but this analysis by @sunny_hundal of Lib Dem voters is absolutely spot on http://t.co/lzFLJ544

  33. Robert CP

    Anyway, if you're interested, I think the Libdems CAN make a come-back in 2015. Here's how http://t.co/PeVZ0YdE





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