Guardian readers switching to Lib Dems in droves

Wednesday’s editorial for the Guardian – which I found online here – is one of those pieces you see all too often in the Guardian, the time honoured preparation of the nose peg. Hold your nose, disregard the stench and put the cross by the rose.

It tries to find some vestige of hope in the Labour party, one thing remaining that is still worth voting for. But it’s the penultimate paragraph and not its conclusion that rings truest:

The party’s activists and MPs are so obviously convinced of their own decent intentions and past record that they fail to see how Labour can appear to outsiders. They have lost sight of the need to explain their actions, to listen to voters, to change and to stand up to immediate sectional self-interest – business as well as strikers. This confusion is the fault of serving ministers as much as it is the foolish greed of Hewitt and Hoon. The buzzword inside Labour’s ruling circle is renewal, but it is hard to see what this means, other than a hoped-for election win. The party is not renewing in any visible way. Its manifesto seems cloudy and unoriginal and its political base narrowing.

And the most remarkable thing about the piece? The comments that follow it. The Guardian’s online commentators are not buying it, not a bit of it.

In a number of comments, its readers are exhorting their paper to switch to the Liberal Democrats.

Claire McW:

Surely the Guardian can’t officially support Labour in the general election after this week’s revelations? They don’t deserve your support and need to work out what they stand for whilst well away from power. Take a chance on the LibDems instead.


I would also like to see the paper coming out in support of the Lib Dems.
Labour getting back in would be disastrous for reform.


I would find it difficult to spend the next 6 weeks trying to pretend that everyone was born yesterday and that Labour on 7 May 2010 will be fresh and optimistic and nothing like the burnt-out case it was on 6 May 2010. Perhaps you would, too.

In which case, why not stop now, save yourselves the grief, and back the Lib Dems. At least they’re an unknown quantity backing social justice. Labour have an unforgettable 13 years in power demonstrating their inability to deliver the same.

In 2010, a Labour vote is a wasted vote. And a Labour editorial is a wasted editorial.

And on and on it goes.

Steve Webb MP has a piece in CiF today shoring up our progressive values in the face of more ill-thought out Fabian criticism.

It looks like he’s sowing seeds in fertile ground.

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • My question for you Alex is – imagine you are in a constituency that had a labour MP with a majority of 1200 over the last Tory candidate. The LD candidate came a very poor third. How would you vote?

    I think you will find that a great many Grauniad readers will vote pragmatically, tactically and perhaps even cynically.

  • Exactly right, Jack. Although these votes would be very useful in Hampstead or Solihull, where they can (re-)elect a Lib Dem MP, or in Chester where they help remove Brown’s Commons majority, in eg Stirling they risk making the Tory candidate’s job easier and giving Cameron/Osborne their own Commons majority.

  • “imagine you are in a constituency that had a labour MP with a majority of 1200 over the last Tory candidate. The LD candidate came a very poor third. How would you vote?”

    I would vote Lib Dem as all chance of voting Labour when they ratted on the promsie of electoral reform.

    And if there was any vesitage of doubt, surely it went when Labour promised a possible referendum on Alternative Vote sometime in the future to be implemented who knows when.

    If Labour wanted people to vote for their second preference, they’d had 13 years to put the system in place.

    On the otherhand, if I was a die hard new labour supporter – of course i’d be voting Conservative, the heir to Blair, all PR froth and Tory actions. The Guardian gives much more favourable coverage to Cameron than they do to the Lib Dems, presumably as they too recognise the Blairite true believer.

  • Sam Jenkinson 25th Mar '10 - 1:28pm

    I do agree Jack. The enemy of my enemy is my ally and all etc. However, something interesting to be thrown into the mix this year is the Prime Ministerial Debates. It gives Clegg an audience and an opportunity alongside the other two leaders that he would never have dreamed of in the past. It’s not going to give him the election, in any sense, but it does give them a chance to equal the levels of support with the others that could deliver near parity with whoever is in opposition.

  • Andrew Suffield 25th Mar '10 - 3:00pm

    I think you will find that a great many Grauniad readers will vote pragmatically, tactically and perhaps even cynically.

    But if they didn’t do that, and voted Lib Dem instead, then maybe there would be enough of them to turn the tide. Given how both Labour and the Tories feel the need to beg for Lib Dem votes in this manner, their chances of winning can’t be all that good.

    And you know what? If people go on voting Tory/Labour like they always have, just “to get rid of the other one”, then nothing will change. You can have a whole constituency who hates both options, and they’ll keep getting Tory/Labour until they have the guts to vote based on what they believe in, rather than what they’re scared by.

  • Tom Papworth 26th Mar '10 - 2:03pm

    Sam > “The enemy of my enemy is my ally and all etc”

    But which enemy? This assumes that a Lib Dem can make an easy choice between Labour and the Tories. Perhaps, on an individual level, some could (we would presumably be able to rank them in an STV system). But I’m not sure that it’s easy to decide who my “enemy” really is.

    Given the “tactical” choice of thowing out Gordon Brown by throwing in David Cameron, I’d rather just throw up.

    Fortunately, we’re in 2nd place in Lewisham West & Penge so I don’t need to worry!

  • Matthew Huntbach 26th Mar '10 - 2:26pm

    “imagine you are in a constituency that had a labour MP with a majority of 1200 over the last Tory candidate. The LD candidate came a very poor third. How would you vote?”

    Well, I am. But every time I am just tempted to think in that way, particularly as I have one of the more decent Labour MPs in the shape of Clive Efford, Labour manages to do something which really, really pisses me off. My wife is not a political person and would tend to be Labour if anything, but she was really, really pissed off by something minor which happened yesterday. If Labour loses Eltham by one vote, the members of LB Greenwich Licensing sub-committee can blame themselves. In fact, given that I’m now actively campaigning in my road against them, if its more than one vote, they can blame themselves. It’s the usual Labour arrogance, ignorance, and assumption we’re subjects to serve them rather than they are our representatives to serve us as citizens.

  • I wish I could be as principled as you lot. In my time I have voted Labour, LibDem, and Green. In the forthcoming election, I will be holding my nose and voting Tory aka ‘Speaker’ – although Mr Bercow seems like a decent chap overall.

    But there is no point hoping for a mass conversion of people to the Lib Dem cause – since so many people vote tribally or as their parents did – and so there would never be a point. Not enough people would change to make it worthwhile. Shortand – it is all prisoners dilemma game playing stuff.

    But I do agree with Sam – the big change in this election will be the three debates. There is all to play for! Many poeple will be very influenced by these. If Clegg does well – he will do well. But so then might Brown and Cameron. If the debates were on 30 minutes – I suspect it would be neck and neck between Cam and Clegg. But 90 mins gives Brown the chance to get across what he wants to say.

    And have you seen the Cam interview with Gay News – watch it and weep!

  • @Jack – It’s not just a case of principle. I literally cannot fathom the vestigial attitude amongst many in our party that New Labour are somehow the “lesser” of the two evils. Take your pick of literally anything they have done and it is either woefully incompetent, disgracefully craven and self-interested or terrifyingly authoritarian and anti-liberty. I do not regard them as better than the Tories by any measure, indeed if I had to pick I would judge them worse. As a party much of whose raison d’etre is as a statement against the rotten and out-dated political system itself, how can we tolerate any sympathy whatsoever for either of the vested interest parties that entrench it without undermining ourselves?

  • Cleggie and the Lib Dems should be out there electioning to win! I for one will be watching the performance of the Lib Dems over the election, but up to now …I’m pretty much decided I’m switching from Labour to Lib Dem for the 2010 election. (I’m going to vote for whoever I think will do a reasonable job of running the country). As for the Gruniad …well I don’t know why the are still backing Labour, probably the same reasons people vote as their parents always have done.

    I haven’t got a clue if the Lib Dems can win, (unlikely), but we will never have a change from Con/Lab if people don’t have the courage to vote for the party/leader/policies they agree with. Whoever that might be.

    I’m tired of Labours arrogance and the childish policies peddled by the Conservatives. If the Lib Dems use the ‘new media opportunities’ TV debates/internet’ to promote themselves then people might actually start believing they can win and vote for them.

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