Helpful advice from the Tories about how to beat them at the next election

I was browsing ConservativeHome.com the other day (as one does), and came across an interesting piece from one of its two editors, Jonathan Isaby. He was warning Tory activists not to sound triumphalist about the prospect of winning a 100-seat majority at the next election, in case it turned off electors – particularly in Lib Dem-held target seats.

Mr Isaby states that, if they are to win a majority, the Tories must

try and win back most of the thirty-odd seats which the party has lost to the Liberal Democrats over the last decade or so.”

Warming to this theme, he places himself in the role of a soft Tory swing voter and asks:

If [the Conservatives] are going to win big… then why shouldn’t I continue voting for my cuddly local Lib Dem MP who makes sure the pavements are clear of dog mess etc etc and enjoy the benefits of the Conservative Government which you say is an inevitability anyway?”

Well, quite.

He concludes that the best chance of Tory success will be if the party continues to look and sound like Liberal Democrats, while focusing their messages on turfing out the Labour Government, something he believes only the Tories can do.

All this got me thinking… Perhaps Mr Isaby was on to something here. Indeed, perhaps he has outlined a really helpful strategy for fighting the Tories in Conservative-facing seats.

Clearly the Tories’ main line of attack against us in the next election will be to say: ‘Only we can get rid of Labour. Don’t vote Lib Dem – you’ll be risking another Labour Government.’ But, as Mr Isaby says, this argument weakens as the Tory poll lead grows.

Consquently, ‘soft’ Tory voters in Tory-facing constituencies are faced with a conunudrum. They want to get rid of Labour, but do they really want a Tory Government and a Tory MP? Isn’ t that a touch of overkill? Is it really an attractive prospect to have a small-fry Tory MP kow-towing to the Tory Government at the expense of his or her local community? The answer for most voters is no.

So, in short, if we have the right campaign messages, focusing on the Lib Dems’ record of local action, the Tories’ poll lead could be their undoing.

And although Mr Isaby is right to warn against triumphalism, he is forgetting the ‘Neil Kinnock Effect’. This is where a party out of power for 10 years or more just can’t help but to sound triumphalist when they think the end is in sight. David Cameron is a better media operator than Mr Kinnock, but that doesn’t matter. The Tory press will do the job for him. I can see the headlines in the Daily Express now: “Tomorrow we will have a Tory Government” or something similarly gratuitous.

As soon as we read those headlines, we know 150 seats are in the bag!

* Joe Taylor is Liberal Democrat Organiser in Camborne and Redruth.

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9 Comments

  • A bit rich coming from the party that invented “it’s a two-horse race – only the Lib Dems can beat Conservatives/Labour here (delete as appropriate)”

  • Labour’s big poll lead in 1997 wasn’t their undoing then. Pretty much anything that was a 3-way marginal went Labour (the one exception I can think of being Colchester).

    We also lost 3 out of 4 of the “Labour” seats we were defending (Southwark & Bermondsey being the exception and classing Oldham East as Labour)

  • You havn’t pointed out that there arugment also relies on the fallacy that a lim dem MP keeps labour in. Also, in the unlikley event of their MP making the differance between a tory majority or no majority then a lib dem would reslult in a hung parliment giving their MP more influance.

  • Very interesting response that tells me that the Lib Dems know that the Tories will be taking back seats in Cornwall and the Lib Dems are wracking their brains for ways to prevent this.

    Barring perhaps Andrew George is there any hope for the Lib Dems holding onto their seats in the county?

    North Cornwall – ummm, Dan Rogerson, Paul Tyler he most certainly is not. Byee.

    SE Cornwall. Sheryl Murray will have no problems seeing off a very poor replacement for Colin Breed.

    Truro & Falmouth. Sorry, demographics are not with the Lib Dems Tata

    Newquay & St Austell. Need I go on?

    You lot are stuffed and this post shows the pre-death grief process has reached the ‘bargaining’ phase.

    It’s time to start thinking about the humanist funeral and a post in some do-gooder charity because the Lib Dems in Cornwall are a train wreck

  • Old Hack-
    You are a charmer! And I wonder why so many people are turned off of politics…

  • I believe Matthew Parris deserves the credit for this theory.

    Old Hack – is this love-bombing!

  • In such circumstances it’s almost worth reviewing Don Chipp’s Australian Democrats, who were highly unlikely to win the election but who promised to “Keep the Bastards Honest”.

    The problem with this, as someone has already pointed out, is that it implies we believe the two big parties ARE honest to begin with but it’s an interesting tack.

    As for Old Hack – maybe you should concentrate on tidying up the near civil war going on amid Cornish Conservatives before coming on here and crowing?

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