Core vote: A dangerous mirage?

Currently the need to establish a core vote seems, akin to motherhood and apple pie, to be so obviously a good thing that it cannot be questioned. However, at the risk of upsetting friends and others alike, let me raise some concerns.

Firstly, there is the simple truism that in a First Past the Post system you cannot win by playing to your core vote, even if you have one. That is a lesson Republicans and Democrats in the USA have to relearn from time to time. It is a lesson the Conservatives had to learn after Thatcher when Ian Duncan Smith, Michael Howard and even William Hague pandered to the right. It is a lesson Labour had to all so painfully learn after the Bennite manifesto of 1983 dubbed the ‘longest suicide note in history’. The Corbynistas may have to learn it all over again.

Secondly, how long does it take to ‘build a core vote’? The affluent Conservative core vote has always existed with the addition of a section of the working class following astute action by Disraeli from his passing of the Second Reform Act of 1867 onwards. Labour’s core vote –primarily lower income, urban and unionised- was uniting behind them over a century ago; especially after the Liberal Party collapse left the field entirely clear after 1922. How long would it take the Liberal Democrats to establish the loyalty of a similar core vote and at what cost? Some have suggested we should pursue our core even if it puts off ‘mainstream’ and/or floating voters. Really? We should fight elections not to try and win but to try and build a long term core vote?

Thirdly, what core vote would we pursue? Over recent years people such as Nick Clegg’s senior strategists Richard Reeves and Julian Astle charted our future as being based on “liberal conservatives”. These were Conservative leaning voters who, once we had convinced them that we were Economic Liberals pursuing Conservative economics, would flock to our banner because of their basic discomfort with the Conservative Party stance on issues such as internationalism and civil liberties. This, we were told, would more than make up for the loss of two thirds of our 2010 voters. Remind me how that experiment went, not just on May 7th but in the disastrous elections of 2011, 2012, 2013 and 2014?

Then there was the shortest suicide note in history, the 2014 ‘Party of In’ experiment based on the reasoning that if 20-30% when polled say they are strongly pro EU then we only needed another 7% of those on top of our 8% national poll rating and we would hold the majority of our Euro MP’s. But such a ‘core vote’ of Europhiles never materialised since most people do not vote on single issues in that way and pro EU Lab and Cons voters still voted for the wider Lab or Cons package.

More recently David Howarth and Mark Pack advocated aiming for the ‘tolerant centre and centre left’ particularly graduates and young people. Whilst agreeing entirely with David Howarth’s Social Liberalism I would though ask where does a critical mass of such core voters as young urban professionals, graduates and young people exist as to be able to alone win a constituency? Maybe in David and Julian Huppert’s former Cambridge seat but in how many other places across the UK?

When I was learning how to fight elections in the 1980s and 90s I was always taught not to ‘just bang on to the voters’ about the things that preoccupied us –such as constitutional reform. I recall too a Green activist I talked to 15 years ago, lamenting that “the trouble is the voters don’t just want to talk about the environment, they want to know our views on Council Tax, crime and the state of the local roads”. If we now take the purist route of talking only to a narrowly defined core vote then we will not start to win elections again. Worse still for me, if we become a party of the intellectual middle class with nothing to say to the inhabitants of Council estates such as the one I grew up on, then we will not be the Social Liberal Party I spent the last three decades campaigning for.

* Paul Holmes was formerly a Cllr for 12 years in Chesterfield and was the MP for 9 years. Much to his surprise he was persuaded to come ‘out of retirement’ and return to elected politics in May 2019.

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34 Comments

  • George Potter 25th Sep '15 - 12:11pm

    I think the actual point is that a core vote is never enough to win an election but is the basis around which you build a winning coalition of voters for an election.

    But obviously building a winning coalition of voters is much easier if you have a dependable bloc guaranteed to vote for you than if you have to win every single vote anew each time.

  • “Worse still for me, if we become a party of the intellectual middle class with nothing to say to the inhabitants of Council estates such as the one I grew up on, then we will not be the Social Liberal Party I spent the last three decades campaigning for.”

    The problem is that the inhabitants of the council estates that you grew up on won’t win you an election on their own, and vote in proportionately lower numbers than the intellectual middle class that you dismiss. So unless you can get the IMC on side and on board you won’t be able to do anything for the CEI.

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Sep '15 - 1:00pm

    You are bang on about the problems of the two core vote strategies of Richard Reeves and then the Mark Pack and David Howarth one.

    When I read the big Richard Reeves speech on the need to appeal to liberal conservatives it was one of the worst speeches I have ever read from a respectable politician. It was rude (by resorting to name calling), dishonest and poorly thought out (sorry to say).

    I don’t find the Mark Pack and David Howarth one rude, but I will say that it is poorly thought out. I watched Question Time last night and although that audience isn’t representative it seemed to really like thoughtful compassion. This is not just one-sided overly simplistic messaging such as being “pro immigration”, but “pro help to those who need it”.

    I sometimes lack a bit of that thoughtful compassion and simply write people off, but it is still different to simplistic messaging and solutions such as “just let more people in and stop the nasty tories”.

  • Topic article, I think everyone’s trying to work out the signal but nobody considers the noise. This is where all “core vote” philosophies fail – we’re actually a party with more noise than signal, so the meaning of core vote is odd. Our true core vote is intrinsically stochastic and for good reason (Tim’s speech was an expanation of the sort of noise/randomness that produces a Lib Dem).

  • David Evans 25th Sep '15 - 1:37pm

    Certainly after spending fifty years building up a core vote from about 6% to around 18% from those liberal minded people who wanted politics to be done better and more honestly, the fact that is went so quickly was a massive shock to those who preferred to call it “The Protest Vote.” However it wasn’t a mirage where the closer we got to it, the more it disappeared, but instead was driven away by a leadership who thought they were so much cleverer than those who had spent that fifty years building it up.

  • Neil Sandison 25th Sep '15 - 2:31pm

    Good article .I probable only get nation issues raised by voters which could be counted on the fingers of one hand. And then only by the antis. Local matters affecting our town, road conditions or the next housing development are usually the most frequent topics of conversation.

  • The last election shows that our core vote is frighteningly small and certainly less than 7%. Our vote has and will in the future consist of core voters, anti-Labour voters, anti-Tory voters (also anti SNP in Scotland) and anti-government voters. Simply entering into a coalition we have to face that we lose two of these groups; this is an obvious fact. The only question that remains is the size of these groups and to take into account a proportion of our core vote that will vote tactically in the interests of Liberalism.

    Although we will not get very far on a core vote alone, without it we do not even get ‘not very far’, so it is indispensable and there are times such as at present where we do need to nurture and strengthen the core. Soon this opportunity will be past, so we should be making the most of it. Alternatively we could squander the opportunity with futile and recriminatory discussion of might have been counter-factuals.

  • Matt (Bristol) 25th Sep '15 - 2:40pm

    Martin is right that the fact of being a minor party dependent on coalition for access to ministerial power means any entry into coalition will almost inevitably fatally fracture the coalitionn of interests we have built internally to get to tha point.

    Possibly the only way I can think of hypothetically to ride that sort of crisis, enable a bigger, loyal ‘core vote’ to be built up, publically acknowledge these tensions and simultaneously manage their risks, would be to formally split into a coalition of regional parties that could take a local line on particular issues talored to local tendencies, but work together overall (ie Welsh Democrats; Liberal Party of Scotland; Democratic Party of London; South Western Alliance Party … I could go on).

    Can’t see that working easily or quickly without other massive counterproductive challenges, particularly in terms of funding a national media campaign, though.

  • A Positive conference and good press reports but then back to reality. Question Time last night and again no Lib Dem to state the case for the party. Tim and the senior party need to find a way to combat this and pretty quick. The 7 – 9 % core vote speculation may seem fanciful come next May. I fear the worst.

  • Silvio:

    I do not really know what “the worst” is to fear. Ironically, the lack of likelihood of any prospect of involvement in government will attract numbers of those for whom voting for anyone who gets into power is the very last thing they would want to do. So on those grounds alone our vote is likely to increase.

    Of course we would never wish to tell such people not to vote for us, but neither should their ‘support’ be used to flatter ourselves. There is a big worry with finding “a way to combat this and pretty quick”: I believe that it is this sort of thinking that led to ten ‘pledge’ on tuition fees, it created a stir and the strongly desired publicity, but it was also a terrible hostage to fortune.

    Incidentally Corbyn has been attracting notice this way for the last 30 years or so and has a whole catalogue of hostages to fortune that will be wheeled out whenever it is opportune for his opponents. This is just one reason why I do not think he will survive as leader to 2020. We have to be careful that we have not committed ourselves to anything that would rebound on ourselves in the event of an abrupt change of tack in the Labour party.

  • Paul Pettinger 25th Sep '15 - 3:53pm

    As already pointed out, we used to have (until quite recently) a much larger core vote, and it noticeably grew under the Kennedy years.

    I think it is refreshing that the core vote strategy authors are having an open debate and offering strategy based on firm analysis. It is is in contrast to much of the elitism and wishful thinking around strategy of recent years.

    To answer the question in the opening post, I don’t think the core vote strategy is dangerous, and I agree with where the strategy argues the Party should base itself on the values and beliefs spectrum in society. But I also think the OP helpfully draws attention to somewhere it can be tweaked – to give a bit more consideration to the coalition of support the Party needs to be able to build to win more target seats (and perhaps the report authors already have ideas on this we don’t know about).

    Party strategy should be a much wider debate, and it will be very disappointing if the internal party post election review pulls its punches or/and closes down debate. We have major issues with the effectiveness of our campaigning versus that of other parties; a lack of effective internal scrutiny, along with some major image problems. I would love to see the outcome of focus group work around this with swing and former voters.

    Just as some Conservatives came to terms with being the ‘nasty party’, so Lib Dems should come to terms with reasons why it lost so many of the 4.4. million votes since 2010. One conference delegate told me this week that when they went to buy something in a pub in Bournemouth and were told the pub ‘had sold out’, staff and nearby customers laughed, knowing that the person was attending the conference. It will take a lot to overcome these issues.

  • David Allen 25th Sep '15 - 4:18pm

    A core vote is a vote by a member of the upper / lower class for the upper / lower class party. We’re not a class party, so we don’t have a core vote.

    This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing. Core voters are getting increasingly cheesed off with class parties who think they can easily win core voters. So there are fewer and fewer core voters around.

    Labour, who are contemptuous of seeking to win elections (and therefore lose them), have failed to cotton on to this. So they are happy with a leader who will bring them in their core vote, which will not be enough to win.

    The Tories, who are contemptuous of seeking to run the country in a way that helps anyone but themselves and their funders, but are obsessive and intelligent about winning elections, have a better approach. They broaden their core vote by appealing to every motivating factor they can think of. Scared of foreigners? We’ll keep them out (PS, actually we’ll let them in, because our business backers want that, but you won’t worry too much, because we’ll keep up a verbal barrage about how hard we are working to keep them out). Sad loser? Michael Howard feels your angst. Scared of cleverer people? We’ll just cram your kids with facts, even stupid people can remember them reasonably well. Prudish and stuffy? We are the party of morality. Scared of burglars? We’ll get the Mail to exaggerate your fears, then we’ll pander to them with long prison sentences. Feeling hard up? We’ll bang on about low taxes, and although we won’t actually match our words with deeds, it will be enough to make you think we have the edge on the other guys.

    We can’t compete with this gutter politics. We will need to beat it with rational argument, and frankly, by repudiating our collaboration with it. If we don’t do that, we’ll be lucky to hang on to 8%.

  • Alex Macfie 25th Sep '15 - 4:20pm

    The “Party of IN” campaign was a serious error not because we were targeting a non-existent “pro-EU” vote, but because whether you are pro or anti EU is a domestic issue and nothing to do with MEPs. By having Clegg wander into Farage’s lair, we allowed Farage to frame the debate in terms of whether you uncritically supported everything that all EU institutions say and do, or want to from the EU. This of course is utter nonsense, as the whole point of European Parliamentary elections is to elect representatives who help make law and policy for the EU as a whole. We should have had a campaign led by our MEPs, talking about what they had done AS LIBERALS to shape EU law and policy in a liberal direction. We should have rejected Farage’s false framing of the debate by noting that there are POLITICAL differences between different parties in terms of how we want the EU to look and what sort of laws it should have, in the exact same way as there are for national government policy. And in particular, we should have taken on the Tories and pointed out their raving-right allies, as well as noting that the European Parliament was a Coalition-free Zone and pointed out how our MEPs and their MEPs voted opposite ways in most contentious divisions. We did none of this, and that is why we did so badly in the Euros.

  • A Social LIberal 25th Sep '15 - 4:24pm

    There is only one way to attract a core vote of liberal voters (that is, voters who are liberal rather than those who vote for Liberals) and that is to have good solid policies which speak to our liberal values as voiced in our Preamble, and then argue for them. More than anything though we must remain true to those liberal principles and not compromise on them the way we did in the coalition.

    I find it cynical in the extreme that political parties will set up policies according to the way that the general public seem to think, for example the ratcheting up of the months and then years an immigrant would have to work before they could claim benefits. All such populism does is attract voters for a fleeting moment of time until a policy more attractive to them comes along.

  • Andrew McCaig 25th Sep '15 - 4:35pm

    I think core vote is important. One definition would be what we get when people think we have no chance of winning, for example in a local by-election in a place where we have not campaigned recently. An example is Pontefract N, where we got 4.5% yesterday (and not with a paperless candidate – leaflets were delivered). Last time we put up a candidate there was 2010, when we got 15%. These votes are mirrored by the Wakefield constituency, where we dropped from 16.3% in 2010 to 3.5% in 2015. The General Election results show that the core vote is a bit better than 3.5% in more Tory seats but 3.5% was very typical of large parts of the North of England. It is the reservoir from which most members and activists can be recruited, and that is one of the main reasons why we need to cultivate it. But in the end it will probably take a parliamentary by-election victory or similar event to increase the core vote, and that will require very good luck, since we are now second in so few seats.

    In many other places we have a “habitual vote”. This is where we have sitting councillors or have some credibility at parliamentary level. Again, in many places this has collapsed alarmingly since 2010 once we lost the council seats. I do think that the habitual vote is more easily re-awakened than trying to build it from scratch. But in trying to re-awaken it I would start by addressing some of the “core vote” issues in leaflets and surveys, and not just pavement politics. Other local by-elections since May have shown that where we have credibility, people are still prepared to vote tactically for us – but credibility requires a lot more work when you start from a base of 3.5% than when you start from 16%. Leaflets alone will not be enough to gain council seats in 2016, but that does not mean it cannot be done!

  • Eddie Sammon 25th Sep '15 - 4:40pm

    Alex Macfie, I’m afraid I just don’t think it stacks up that the only problem with the Party of IN campaign was that it wasn’t relevant to what MEPs do in parliament. UKIP won the election and their MEPs do nothing in parliament.

    A big problem is the public didn’t think Nick Clegg and Lib Dems would “stand up for Britain”.

  • @ Paul Holmes

    “Over recent years people such as Nick Clegg’s senior strategists Richard Reeves and Julian Astle charted our future as being based on “liberal conservatives”. These were Conservative leaning voters who, once we had convinced them that we were Economic Liberals pursuing Conservative economics, would flock to our banner because of their basic discomfort with the Conservative Party stance on issues such as internationalism and civil liberties.”

    “When I was learning how to fight elections in the 1980s and 90s I was always taught not to ‘just bang on to the voters’ about the things that preoccupied us”

    I think there was a failure in the past to define for the public what liberalism means. From time to time you hear a conference speaker talk about liberal principles and how they lead to a particular policy position, but so often we don’t say these thing to the public. We need to not only say what our policy is but why our liberalism leads us to that position. As someone once said “it’s the economy stupid” and we have failed to have a distinct economic message. As Paul said we have been pursuing Conservative economics that believe the wealthy have to be rewarded and the poor have to be threatened with sanctions. This isn’t liberalism. This isn’t treating people equally.

    Tim’s concern about housing could be the liberal issue around which we can gather support as we once did around a penny on income tax for education pre-1997. Having a home is about equality and is a liberal concern. What Tim needs to do is work out how 300,000 homes can be built year in, year out and how it will be financed, as the free market will not do it. I think building homes has a mass appeal which increasing immigration to Britain doesn’t have. It would provide economic benefits for the poorest in society, which mass immigration doesn’t.

    It has been suggested we have a liberal policy on drugs. We know what the liberal position is but our leaders seem afraid of it. We should know what the liberal position to nuclear power is, but in government we gave it up and supported subsidies to those who provide nuclear energy. We have yet to realise that liberals should be supporting a Citizen’s Income to give people more freedom. We have realised what the liberal policy is to those who are ill or disabled and are not employed, but we don’t all support the idea that sanctions have no role to play in a liberal society.

  • Alex Macfie 26th Sep '15 - 1:34am

    Eddie Sammon: But the reason UKIP was able to “win” despite their MEPs not doing anything was precisely that no-one (except possibly the Green Party) did anything to encourage voters to think about what their MEPs were doing. And I include the Lib Dems in this, because our national ‘air war’ Euro eleciton campaign hardly mentioned our MEPs at all. It is therefore no surprise that the voters concluded that MEPs don’t actually matter, when that is exactly what the media and most party leaders were encouraging them to think. And I include the Lib Dems in this. We did not have any MEP leading the Euro election campaign, instead we had our Westminster leader, who was not up for election and who should therefore have been irrelevant to the Euro campaign. And let’s be clear about this: Clegg AGREED WITH FARAGE that MEPs don’t matter, and that the EU debate is about a binary choice between uncritical support and withdrawal. In doing so, he basically promoted the idea that it didn’t matter that UKIP MEPs did nothing constructive, and thus validated the choice to vote UKIP. We should have instead challenged these two falsehoods by promoting what our MEPs had done and our specifically liberal vision on the EU.

    Also MEPs are not there to stand up for their respective nation-states. If they were, then there would be no point in them, as they would just duplicate the European Council. The very strength of the European Parliament is that it is independent of national interests. When MEPs voted to reject or sack the Commission, they did so in the face of pressure from national governments to support their respective country’s appointee by keeping the Commission in place. In general it is the European Parliament (representing the people of the EU as a whole) that stands for reform of EU instutitions, while the nation-states in the Council pander to vested national interests and resist EU reform.

  • Richard Sangster 26th Sep '15 - 10:16am

    The alternative way of looking at the matter is that we should not spend a lot of time trying to appeal to people, who are never going to vote for us. I fail to see that Nimbys have values, which are compatible with the philosophy of the Liberal Democrat Party.

  • Chris Lewcock 26th Sep '15 - 11:19am

    The core votes of all Parties have been whittling away for years (perhaps less so the Tories but even they) and are a bit of a psephological mirage. Rather than create a core or bloc vote perhaps we need to concentrate on building a listening vote which, when electoral circumstances are propitious, will deliver us seats. Before people will care about what we know we first have to first show them that we care. Show that we care about our (!) mutual “neighborhoods” and that care derives from our (and their) liberalism and they might be willing to listen to our wider messages.

  • Hear hear Alex Macfie
    The other problem with Clegg’s debate with Farage is that it concentrated far too heavily on the effect on British business and company and individual finances. The wider arguments, which you eloquently put, Alex (if a post can be eloquent!) remained unaddressed. It was particularly ironic, in 2014 that the approach remained “Don’t mention Europe”, when the indication had been given, certainly by Clegg, that the previous campaign principle would be reversed, and by that time Chris Rennard, the leading proponent of Don’t mention Europe had been sidelined by that time!

  • nvelope2003 26th Sep '15 - 1:03pm

    John Marriott: The German FDP has only once failed to get any members in the German Parliament (in 2013) after an unsatisfactory coalition with the CDU/CSU. The idea that coalitions must only be sought with the party which has the largest number of MPs seems perverse. Surely they should be with those parties which have most in common unless circumstances makes this impossible. Seems Mr Farron has not taken this on board yet.

  • Tony Dawson 26th Sep '15 - 7:49pm

    No ‘core vote’ ever got any single Lib Dems elected to Parliament ever. I cannot see any scenario when it will do so in the forseeable future.

  • I think of core voters as people who normally vote for and identify with a specific party, as opposed to floating voters I suppose. There are plenty of people who hold liberal political views but many of them don’t identify with the party at the moment and its this group of people who we need to win back. It’s an enormous number of people and I agree with Paul Holmes that in first past the post we need that wider appeal.

  • nvelope2003 27th Sep '15 - 5:18pm

    John Marriott: Yes you are right about the Lander elections but earlier this year the FDP returned to at least one and possibly 2 Lander Parliaments, although their national poll rating is often less than the 5% threshold, which incidentally no longer applies to the European Parliament elections after a Federal Court ruling.

    Well I accept that in 2010 the party had no real option but to do a deal with the Conservatives but after that experience there must be no repeat without the most exceptional circumstances or the Liberal Democrats will become extinct, at least as a parliamentary force.

    David Wallace: The Canadian Liberals were reduced to third party status after the last election. We shall have to wait until after 19th October to see if they can return to power. The polls have started to look more optimistic but do not show them becoming the largest party. Still polls can be wrong………

  • nvelope2003 27th Sep '15 - 5:19pm

    John Marriott: Yes you are right about the Lander elections but earlier this year the FDP returned to at least one and possibly 2 Lander Parliaments, although their national poll rating is often less than the 5% threshold, which incidentally no longer applies to the European Parliament elections after a Federal Court ruling.

    Well I accept that in 2010 the party had no real option but to do a deal with the Conservatives but after that experience there must be no repeat without the most exceptional circumstances or the Liberal Democrats will become extinct, at least as a parliamentary force.

    David Wallace: The Canadian Liberals were reduced to third party status after the last election. We shall have to wait until after 19th October to see if they can return to power. The polls have started to look more optimistic but do not show them becoming the largest party. Still polls can be wrong……… They have however won some provincial elections.

  • Martin, I fear that you have painted yourself into a corner with your very first words on this thread and have been going round in ever decreasing circles from then on. As I and others have said in earlier posts, our core vote prior to our involvement in the 2010-15 government had been built up over decades to something in the high teens, but that was sacrificed by the approach Nick took in coalition. It was not an obvious fact, but a clear misunderstanding on your part to claim that entry into coalition that lost us votes. What lost us votes was the failure once in coalition to even attempt to control the Conservatives , coupled with the way Nick talked down to those who pointed out the problems he was creating by his use of terms like “grown up government,” implying his opponents were not grown up. It is this toxic legacy we have to jettison as quickly as possible.

    Currently, next May’s elections could be either a triumph for the party where we turn the corner and start to progress again having got the monkey off our back, or another turn of the spiral of decline we have been in almost since the moment Nick became leader. That is the worst Silvio refers to.

    What is most dispiriting in your post is the easy way you choose to rely on a few warm wishes, like the an increase in Lib Dem support from voters who are attracted by the absence of any chance of power. I think if you believe there are significant numbers of voters who vote simply to avoid voting for those in power, your electoral success will be limited indeed.

    People like Dorothy Thornhill, Lynne Featherstone, Charlie Kennedy, and even Nick Clegg and Tim Farron, local councillors and MEPs all got elected because people believed they would get things done, not because of any wish to avoid voting for success. They did this because the Lib Dems got a reputation for saying what they would do and sticking to it, not reneging on pledges at the drop of a hat. The only reason tuition fees was a hostage to fortune was because we chose not to stick to it, and that lost us huge amounts of trust, not because it made us a hostage to fortune. Believing anything else will simply destine us to yet more years in the wilderness.

    But ultimately our future is in our own hands. Whether it lies in rationalising failure and succumbing to comfortable self delusion, is up to each of us. I hope most of us will not go down that route for there indeed lies oblivion.

  • SIMON BANKS 28th Sep '15 - 6:10pm

    It’s not the idea of securing a core vote that could be toxic, it’s defining it too narrowly. The problem with the Reeves strategy was that the idea of “Liberal conservatives” didn’t actually correspond to many people or to the people we relied on to keep us afloat when times were bad. Then our growing understanding of social profiling should come with a health warning. It’s very useful to know that socially liberal 20-40 year old minority ethnic women with university degrees are unusually likely to vote for us, or scientists say, but many of our staunch voters in Mid Wales, say, don’t fit the UK Liberal Democrat social profile at all. What unifies Liberal Democrats is not social characteristics but beliefs. There I think we do have a core vote – pro-equality, pro-liberty, pro-diversity, involved in communities (if not necessarily locality-based ones) and just a little bit ornery.

    Of course we need to build on that to win seats by first-past-the-post, and that’s where the “they get things done” vote is crucial. But we can’t be satisfied with defining ourselves as people who get things done. Mussolini famously made the trains run on time.

  • J George SMID 29th Sep '15 - 4:35pm

    The problem is identity. Everybody knows (or thinks to know) what Labour is standing for. And what the Conservatives are for. It might not be true and the actual parties change (witness Labour before and after Corbyn). But the ‘intuitive’ recognition is there. We all know that ‘working men’ Cameron is a crony of big business and we all know that John McDonnell businessman is more about redistribution than creation of wealth. Even when he talks about cutting taxes. Intuitively, David Cameron had no problem with throwing taxpayer billions at the bankers – and nationalising Lloyds to save them. But SSI Redcar? Never can conservative government waste taxpayer’s millions on failed enterprise. And we all know John McDonnell would hate doling out of hole bankers and would spend money on steelworkers instead.
    What is the intuitive Liberal Democrat position? What is our ‘undefined’ identity? What is our emotional message?
    Once we have these, our core vote will spring into being.

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