Dear Labour Party, You’re messing with my head

I live in Oxford East, a key Lib Dem target where in 2005 Labour scraped home by just 963 votes.

In the first week of the campaign, Labour plastered their literature with dire warnings that a vote for the Lib Dems would serve only one purpose: to let in the Tories.

Half-truths were deployed to make the point, such as “Nick Clegg is refusing to rule out a back room deal to put the Tories into power.” They could also have said Nick’s refusing to rule out a deal with Labour as well. That wouldn’t fit Labour’s scare tactics, so of course they don’t.

But there’s a thing about scare tactics: they only work if you repeat the same message consistently.

Which makes it ever so slightly odd then for Labour to send me a long, discursive letter from cabinet minister Lord Adonis encouraging me to cast a tactical vote for Labour at this election.

The reason? Well, M’Lord Adonis offers me a mini-history lesson, telling me how the Liberals supported Labour minority governments three times in the last century, as well as joining coalition government in Scotland.

He further points out that “outside wartime, the official Liberal party has never supported a Tory government”. Later in the letter he reports that there is a “fundamental Labour-Liberal Democrat identity of interest”.

Now Lord Adonis is talking rubbish: progressive liberals should vote Lib Dem, naturally.

But why, Labour, are you choosing to send me literature saying that a vote for the Lib Dems will let in the Tories, and also send me literature saying that the Lib Dems have never supported the Tories? You’re just confusing me.

Is this the first example of a political party saying different things in the same part of the country?

* Labour leaflet image courtesy The Straight Choice. I’d aleady recycled mine.

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This entry was posted in General Election.


  • Philip Young 18th Apr '10 - 3:05pm

    Eh? What ever happened to history in all this knock about stuff. You would have thought everyone in Parliament had heard of 1922….the Tories even named a committee after ending their pact with the Liberals.

    But then the Daily Telegraph the other day said the last Liberal Goverment was 1910, and on the next page, the Deputy Editor wrote a column which said the last Liberal General Eelction victory was 1915….presumably voters went to the polls not knowing their was a war on, and that Lloyd George was the the country’s leader.

    Yep, clearly we are all in for a headache, we’ve seen nothing yet.

    Coming soon…the Tory leaflet that says that voting Liberal Democrat means we are going to empty the prisons, let in all the assylum seekers, and leave the country defenceless… while signing up to the Euro, and propping up Brown, which will see a run on the pound, ruin Britain and cause everyone else to emmigrate to Australia.

  • It seems we’ve got the other parties in a check mate – if the tories attack us from the right they’ll lose their centrist credentials – if they keep love bombing us it will just drive up our numbers. If Labour attack us they’ll lose the Lib Dem tactical votes they need but not attacking us will let the Nick and Vince bandwagon roll. They’ve failed to scare the public over a hung parliament and repeating this is making them look desperate – they could maybe manage it in a normal media environment but the lib dems have enough coverage for us to rebut this quite easily.

    Is the national party putting together a strategy for these numbers? We need to (modestly) expand the number of target seats using some of the money we’ve raised and force the other two onto the back foot in the new marginals!

    I don’t mean go all out but peal off some of the new activists, get an extra leaflet out and maybe put up a few billboard posters if we can afford it. If they don’t fall this time it will put us in a good position for the next election and will help solidify the national numbers.

  • Oh please keep some money in reserve for a second election and stick with current target seats.
    Better to secure the target seats with good majorities than stretch too thin. The impact of doubling our MPs will make a massive difference to resources anyway.

    Personally, I don’t think the bounce will unravel, at least not by much. Certainly a hung parliament is extremely likely.

    It was pretty clear from the first debate that none of the Leaders are going to commit gaffes – although quite a few of the anecdotes have been questioned !

    Cameron is under more pressure than Nick, because if he fails to come top again, that will be three debates in a row the Lib Dems.

    The big debate will be the last one, on the economy, but say it improves form the Labour/Tory view point to a draw, or even a win for either of the others, will people flock back to the Tories ?

    Unlikely, the real challenge for the Lib Dems will be to maintain the popularity after the election.
    Too much priggishness about not going into coalition and too much waiting for a special party conference will send poll rating plummeting and leaving Cameron saying I told you so.

    On the otherhand a deal with either party will mean the end of Brown and a massive move towards PR.

  • Steve Buckel 18th Apr '10 - 8:18pm

    Politicians have long had a reputation for falling short in the veracity department. Surely, no one would disagree with that. The present incarnation of the Labour Party and government has set a hitherto untrenched depth for lying. It has almost become a conditioned reflex. They will lie when the truth would have served their purpose better.

    I declare an interest: I will not be voting for your party but shall be voting Conservative, not because I believe that they are necessarily best, but in order to unseat a Labour MP with a small majority. But I would offer this in friendship: Do not let the current polling success of the LibDems obscure this fact of life about Labour, however tempting.

  • Good article.

    I hope the combination of Conservative votes and Lib-Dem votes obliterate Labour. Labour have ruined this country economically and have introduced an authoritian streak which is not British and undertaken an illegal war. How can this country let such a “shower” continue to run this country.

  • @Nash

    But the Conservatives were part of the toxic deregulated combination that led to an uncontrolled banking sector (allowing building societies like Northern Rock to demutualise was a good idea?) and they also voted for the Iraq war, as Nick will no doubt remind them come Thursday. They are also rotten to the core with corruption.

    Labour are crap, but the Tories are just as bad.

  • Sgt Skepper 19th Apr '10 - 1:25pm

    I live in the Lib/Lab marginal of Manchester Withington. The Labour election literature tells me that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for David Cameron, but the Tory election literature quite handily cancels that out by claiming that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for Gordon Brown. They really are patronising arseholes.

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