Nick and Vince: the party’s dual leadership for the election campaign

Visitors to the Lib Dem website – www.libdems.org.uk – will notice a new ‘splash’ page has recently been put up to greet them. Here’s what it looks like:

It’s worth highlighting for two reasons:

1. The emphasis on fairness and the party’s policy – unique among the three main parties – of cutting income tax for the majority of British people by raising the tax threshold to £10,000;

2. The emphasis on the dual leadership of Nick and Vince. It’s hard to imagine Labour producing a similar image of Gordon and Harriet, or the Tories with David and William. Yet the Lib Dem leader is happy to share the space with his deputy. True, of course, Vince is a vote-winner. But it’s still a risk, for Nick personally and for the party, as the media will pounce on any seeming difference of message between the two of them (remember the Two Davids campaign of ’87?). The upside is equally clear: here’s a team which combines youth and wisdom, energy and experience.

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9 Comments

  • Cllr Patrick Smith 8th Mar '10 - 8:49pm

    I think that the image of Nick Clegg and Vince Cable together is worth the risk and potential scrutiny of the media.

    The media will,however, seize upon any discrepancy of view between Leader and potential Chancellor in waiting, as we approach the most important General Election, since 1910.

    As the Liberal Democrat Campaign is the only one available to the Electorate, that will give Fairness in Taxes and
    and a tax return of £700 on the first £10,000 of income for the worst off 4 million unfairly hit taxpayers.

    Vince Cable is a household name and the most publically rated as a future trusted Chancellor who I suspect that many value added votes will come as a result of the indomitable pairing of Clegg/Cable.

    I would also like to see a new L/D honourable supporter and multi-million pound backer pairing with Liberal Democrat Policies emergent in the wake of the Ashcroft saga.

    A new wealthy L/D donor would help and make a public statement that he/she believes root and branch in the Clegg/Cable message to the country of principled policies and Fair Taxes and Clean Politics and smaller classroom sizes via `Pupil Premium’ and be prepared to donate towards all ambitions for increased L/D Gains across the UK.

  • The Clegg / Cable pairing is such an attractive idea, because it makes the most of our Party’s assets. It also makes a stronger, strength-in-depth appeal to the average voter than the Clegg-only approach.
    It’s a good photo, and a .good concept, -as long as they stay in close communication, of course.

  • Antony Hook 9th Mar '10 - 10:00am

    There are good examples of this being done successfully in the past.

    Asquith and Lloyd George (as PM and Chancellor) were viewed as a similar great team of two (until 1916).

  • Matthew Huntbach 9th Mar '10 - 10:13am

    It’s good. Vince Cable has earnt a lot of respect from people who don’t usually give respect to our party. Given the uselessness of most of the Conservative and Labour front benches, it’s maybe not that difficult to shine in comparison to them, but Cable still deserves credit for doing so – he’s quite clearly the best in our generation of MPs to lead the country as Chancellor. We can clearly see the difference here between someone who has worked in a serious economic role before coming into politics, and someone whose only experience has been party and PR work.

    Nick Clegg has problems, not all of his own making. It wasn’t his fault that the Conservatives elected a near identical twin as their leader – I mean that, I suspect if you put unlabelled photos of Clegg and Cameron in front of most electors and asked them to label them, the error rate would be very high. Pairing him with Cable overcomes that, and the gravitas of the older man overcomes the problem that Clegg somehow doesn’t seem to have reached the middle age his calendar years tell us he must have. Again, I mean this as an honest assessment – it’s a presentation issue, David Steel also suffered from it, his boyish looks did mean he found it difficult to be taken seriously alongside Jenkins and Owen, he was still “the boy David” over 20 years after being elected to Parliament.

    As I’ve said many times, our party has tended to suffer from being seen in national coverage as the personal vehicle of its leader, Kennedy worked surprisingly well as leader in part because, for reasons we know well, he had to delegate a lot of the work to his team. We need to do more to make sure we are seen as not a one-man-band, particularly as the leaders’ debates will emphasise that.

  • David Allen 9th Mar '10 - 1:39pm

    Clegg didn’t choose to look like Cameron’s twin, but, he could have chosen not to play up to the likeness. Similar sharp suits, similar-ish hair style, similar confident public school speaking style, etcetera.

    When Clegg was first elected, he cultivated quite an endearing personal interview style, with a tendency to gabble and go round the houses a little, while creating the impression that here was someone trying hard to be honest and engage properly with the complex questions he was being asked. That style, which had the virtue of individuality, has been replaced by something much closer to a clone of Cameron’s.

    Sorry, I think it’s deliberate. Clegg wants to use non-verbal clues to convey to the public which side he is on.

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