Where did the Lib Dems go wrong?

I’ve not been able to get through to any Lib Dems since the bad news for them started to seep out. Yes, they made impressive gains in some places, defying national swing, but last night was a disappointing night: Lembit Opik knocked out in Montgomeryshire on a big swing of over 13 per cent, Julia Goldsworthy falling in Camborne and Redruth, and Susan Kramer losing Richmond Park to the Tories’ Zac Goldsmith. A bad shock after all those predictions of over 100 seats in the last few days.

When I took the temperature outside the National Liberal Club shortly after one am on Friday morning (it was freezing cold, by the way) I was told the crowd within – led by party president Baroness (Ros) Scott – was “cynical” about the exit poll predicting a couple of seat losses for the Lib Dems. What about all those opinion polls, I heard. But still it was clear that the night wasn’t going quite as hoped.

One view from within the club is that the desire to “do something different” in Nick Clegg’s words led the rebel vote to be split among several small parties, and the Lib Dems didn’t do enough to harvest those votes. It was even suggested that the large numbers of people turned away at the polling stations had an effect – many of them were young, and the Lib Dems think they’ve seized a lot of support among young people, not just recently but since Clegg became leader.

Another view, put about in the media, is that the Lib Dems’ policies on Europe and immigration (offering regularisation of undocumented migrants, or an amnesty as some would say) turned people against them. Certainly the only Lib Dem policy point I heard someone mention when I canvassed opinion in the target seat of Watford (still undeclared as I write), it was someone calling Clegg “too pro-Europe”.

I doubt the shambolic scenes at some polling stations could have had *that* much effect, though. But in any case, Clegg’s position is safe however poor his party’s showing, as it looks like he could be getting an important phone call soon…

(from the Tribune blog)


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One Response to “Where did the Lib Dems go wrong?”

  1. The real Billy Says:

    Perhaps it went wrong when lefties like Billy ‘I like to’ Bragg signed on?

    The Labour Government barely deserves the support of the Labour Party, the Party barely deserves the support of the unions and none of us deserve the support of those people who despite all came and voted for us this time. But push comes to shove in politics sometimes and these are the defining moments for anyone involved. People rallied to Labour when it became clear we were fighting in part for the very idea of a party of ordinary people not bought by millionaires or sold to the media agenda. When it became clear that this was a fight against the hectoring middle class who want a Tory government to protect them from the likes of us with private health and private schools in their gated housing estates. When it became clear that the Tories stand not for the Big Society but for the Two Societies: the haves and the have nots. As they always did.

    Push came to shove last Thursday and Billy Bragg didn’t stand with those of us trying to build a better world. He stood with the Tangerine Tories instead. The guys who are falling over themselves this weekend to sell out the manifesto Billy loved so much in return for a space for their own snouts in the Tory trough. Many people Billy has inspired and influenced over the years stand to lose once the Liberals open the doors to power for the Tories. We will pay the debts of the city bankers sunning themselevs on the beaches of Belize with our jobs, our wages, our tax credits, our paid holidays and the futures of our children.

    Its right and proper that Billy is remembered by Labour supporters and union members now for this betrayal more than his past songs and solidarity.

    “Which side are you on?” I think Billy has decided.

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