Lib Dem “senior strategists”, what are you thinking?

I know that in the run-up to an election, not every story that newspapers print, especially those newspapers which are hostile to us which is, let’s face it, all of them, is grounded in accuracy.

You would think that we would help ourselves, though. Who on earth has said in the hearing of the Telegraph that the party fears that Danny Alexander will lose his Inverness seat?

Danny Alexander will lose his seat at the next general election unless there is a radical turnaround in fortunes, a senior Liberal Democrat strategist has privately warned.

The source believes the Chief Secretary to the Treasury’s closeness to the austerity cuts and George Osborne will create an “anti-Danny” backlash among constituents that could topple him.

It raises the prospect of one of the four most influential figures in the Coalition being kicked out of politics in less than six months.

Whoever wrote this article knows nothing about the proud, liberal tradition in the Highlands which is deeply offended by the SNP Government’s indiscriminate use of unregulated stop and search and armed police patrolling their peaceful communities. Danny has been vociferous in standing up to them, and on their concentration of resources in the central belt rather than on providing a fit for purpose trunk road to the north.

The article also says that Danny is concentrating on local issues, which is not really going to wash if he’s in a high profile economic spokesman position. He will have to excel, for local and national reasons, at showing the fairness we have brought to the Coalition and what a Conservative Government, and, yes, a Labour one, would have been like. Let’s not forget that Labour were planning their own changes to Housing Benefit.

I wouldn’t be quite so annoyed by this story if we hadn’t had another (or maybe the same) source briefing the Independent at length about how we wanted to have our own ministries rather than spread ourselves across government next time. Surely their time would be better spent coming up with a much more compelling narrative to vote Liberal Democrat than the one we are getting at the moment. We need to be loud, bold and sassy as I wrote when Ryan had his Quiet Bat People moment. We don’t need to be talking about the mechanics of the next government when we’re not getting across why people should vote for us in a way that is resonating with people.

I  am aware that the third thing I’m going to bring up will be more controversial. Last week on his Facebook page, Nick lauded the Sainsbury’s Christmas advert, saying:

This poignant and emotive advert looks like a very strong contender for this year’s best Christmas advert. What do you think?

I’m also very pleased that £1 from the sales of the chocolate bar goes to the
Royal British Legion – a very worthy cause.

I only watched it for the first time on Sunday and, to be honest, it made me feel distinctly uncomfortable. It dramatises the Christmas Day game of football between English and German soldiers in 1914. Its production values were very high, but I’m not sure that romanticising war to sell tinsel and turkeys is quite the sort of thing I want to enthusiastically endorse. It’s not as bad as when he undermined his good record on gender equality by posing with the Sun earlier this year, but I still don’t really love it.

I think that our strategists need to be concentrating on what will get us votes next year. It’s not just as though we need them for ourselves. This country is becoming a horribly uncomfortable place as immigrants and benefit claimants are scapegoated and people talk about pulling the duvet of isolationism over our heads like it’ll make our problems go away. A strong, liberal voice and presence is needed. We have it. We need to find our melody and confidently and articulately take every opportunity to promote it. All liberals need to put everything we have, even though we may be knackered after four years of constant battle, into defending a fair, free and liberal society. Those are the stakes.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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70 Comments

  • “people talk about pulling the duvet of isolationism over our heads like it’ll make our problems go away”

    People need to stop assuming that UKIP are an oncomming wave, what about teh 85% of people who don’t tell polsters that they will vote UKIP?

    There has always been people expressing isolationist views, they just have worked out how to getr hold a a megaphone recently. Just keep pointing out how they are wrong.

  • Morwen Millson 18th Nov '14 - 10:22am

    Couldn’t agree more Caron – press briefings need to be about our achievements and our policies, not about risks and worries! I don’t like the Sainsbury’s ad either, for all the cooperating with the British Legion!

  • There are comments I am resisting making.
    Of the three stories, one sounds sensible , another sounds like an English perspective on Scottish elections and the third seems naive and silly.

  • Bill Le Breton 18th Nov '14 - 10:29am

    Must have been a good lunch.

    Stories like this do not come ‘consciously’ from the source. I say this not to excuse or condone, but to explain. You get a phone call inviting you to lunch. You are wined and dined and smoked and slowly filleted, just like the Dover sole on your plate. It probably all sounded like the journo was really concerned for Danny’s future.

    But if you employ kids to do grown people’s jobs, this is what you get. But that is ok. In eight months this person will be employed as a lobbyist with an up to date address book and a fistful of contacts.

  • What Bill said .

  • Simon Hebditch 18th Nov '14 - 10:42am

    The usual tittle tattle from a booze filled lunch as Bill suggested. On the Danny story, would it be a disaster if he lost Inverness? He is one of the architects of the coalition and there needs to be a root and branch reform of the party and its leadership post the election.

  • It’s not inconceivable that these ‘senior sources’ and ‘senior strategists’ and ‘senior HQ staff’ that the media seem to trot out to brief against us could be….made up for the paper’s sales? But of course our media is always in pursuit of the truth and would never make up such a thing….would they?

  • I think Dany is an OK person my only gripe is he sounds when he does interviews like he is not able to shout what he has done other than tax threshold which is a pity, though he may get caught in the Scottish devolution issue

    Nick having an opinion terrible he should be banned from Twitter, in fairness I don’t really like the Sainsbury idea and that’s mild for me.

    I look forward too the strategy of the four parties in the manifesto launch

  • @ Simon Hebditch

    “He is one of the architects of the coalition and there needs to be a root and branch reform of the party and its leadership post the election.”

    …so we are never willing to go into government again and can stay happily at the side lines as a protest group with utopian plans that we never expect actually to put into practice in the real world.

  • This sounds like somebody who knew exactly what they were doing. It’s just they have it in for Danny Alexander and don’t mind if they damage the party in the process.

    Trust the Torygraph to dress this person up as a “senior strategist”. If they could get the office cleaner to say stuff like this, then they’d quote them, and probably twist the quotes out of all recognition in the process.

    The Telegraph is a rubbish right-wing newspaper and when it comes to politics is almost as bare faced in its distortions as the Daily Mail.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Nov '14 - 11:33am

    Caron Lindsay

    Whoever wrote this article knows nothing about the proud, liberal tradition in the Highlands which is deeply offended by the SNP Government’s indiscriminate use of unregulated stop and search and armed police patrolling their peaceful communities.

    Presumably what the police are doing as described here applies across the whole of Scotland, not just the Highlands. So is there any reason to think that the people of the Highlands are so much more offended by it than any other Scots? Otherwise, while I accept you know much more about what is going on there than I do, how does this claim of people being offended by what the SNP is doing fit in with the SNP seeming to be doing very well in the polls?

  • I see the bookies think he’s doomed and have the SNP odds-on favourite at 2/5.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Nov '14 - 11:38am

    James Moore

    It’s not inconceivable that these ‘senior sources’ and ‘senior strategists’ and ‘senior HQ staff’ that the media seem to trot out to brief against us could be….made up for the paper’s sales?

    Well, I would guess not entirely made up, but carefully selected. Consider the way certain members of the party on its far right economic fringe always seem to be cropping up and quoted in the right-wing press as “senior Liberal Democrats” or similar words, with the impression being given that they are far more representative of party opinion than is really the case.

  • David Howell 18th Nov '14 - 11:40am

    Wow!

    To read this article, one would think that the LibDems hadn’t been in the government which has “scapegoated benefits claimants and immigrants” – not to mention the disabled, the elderly, and anyone who isn’t in the top rate tax bracket.

    Funny how, despite the SNP being the “Gestapo of the Highlands” (LOL) have managed to more than triple their membership. Remind me again . . . How many LibDem members are there now?

  • I believe the words “Osborne” used yesterday in that, the economy could still go backwards (cannot recall his exact wording) was a step towards counteracting the LD claim of input to the financial recovery. Either that or an opening so they can stop the rise on the threshold of taxable income they promised at their conference, knowing that was part of LD policy and therefore included before we did. I think it would be called “covering your back on a broken promise to come as it wasn’t genuine to begin with”.

  • Matthew Huntbach 18th Nov '14 - 12:13pm

    RC

    Trust the Torygraph to dress this person up as a “senior strategist”. If they could get the office cleaner to say stuff like this, then they’d quote them, and probably twist the quotes out of all recognition in the process.

    Yes, but, sorry to say, the leadership of the party has very often been happy to go along with this sort of thing. Consider how very much “sources close to the leader” are quoted in the right-wing press, and used to push the party in a rightwards direction – and how the leader of our party never counters what is said, or starts any sort of investigation leading to disciplinary proceedings because that’s the idea: push the party rightwards while pretending it isn’t actually you the leader that’s ding so. The game was rather given away when one of this sot actually wrote a book about using this strategy calling it The Clegg Coup.

    Now, the Leader and those surrounding him can see the reality – it doesn’t matter how much they suck up to the right-wing press, and go along with what they say we should do to become more “electable” as they would see it, and get better coverage from them, the right-wing press will NEVER really be our friends. Clegg and the Cleggies used this strategy to get to the top, to take over our party. Oh yes, ‘become a “sensible” party, get rid of all those “beards and sandals” type, become a “party of government”, adopt the same sort of obsession with free market solutions as the other two parties, and we’ll take you seriously’. Well, sure, the right-wing press was very happy to push Clegg to the top by coverage of this sort when he was getting there. And then, as soon as he got there he was stabbed in the back by them.

    The Richard Reeves New Statesman article” remains to me the worst example of this sort of thing. Someone advertised as “Nick Clegg’s former Director of Strategy” writes an article, on the eve of the party conference essentially saying “all you hard-working activists who’ve given your lives to building up the party, get out and join Labour, you aren’t wanted any more”. If Nick Clegg was not at least in semi-agreement to this, he should have angrily denounced this article and its author, made clear that this was NOT the strategy he was following. But he didn’t. So we are let thinking this was something he agreed with, just didn’t want it put quiet so bluntly himself, all part of the strategy of becoming more right-wing and so getting better press coverage. Long-standing party activists are abused in this way, because the Leader thinks they are expendable and he can get new more influential friends.

    Hasn’t worked, has it? He’s lost so many true friends, and just got stabbed by his new supposed friends.

    OK, but one might say the New Statesman is hardly part of the right-wing press, so how do they fit in with this? Well, why did they give prominent coverage to one of the party’s most extreme economic right-wingers just before this tear;s party conference? Why is a Labour-supporting magazine of the left so keen to promote the extreme right wing of the Liberal Democrats? I think the answer is fairly obvious.

  • @ David Howell
    “To read this article, one would think that the LibDems hadn’t been in the government which has “scapegoated benefits claimants and immigrants” – not to mention the disabled, the elderly, and anyone who isn’t in the top rate tax bracket.”

    Er, which it hasn’t. Presumably “scapegoating” means “limiting benefits spending increases” in your vocabulary.

  • Couldn’t agree more, Bill.

  • Steve Comer 18th Nov '14 - 1:07pm

    The Inverness seat (albeit with boundary changes) has been marginal since the 1950s. (Russell Johnston once won it with 26% of the vote). Danny did have 40% of the vote last time out, but this onewas always going to be a tough fight. The Telegraph Journos didn’t need to spend the Barclay Bros dosh on a lavish meal in order to state the bleeding obvious!

    I don’t think Danny will be helped by having to be in the TV economic debate with his boss, George Osborne. Another badly judgement by the party Leader I think. (I haven’t seen the Sainsbury’s ad yet – I suppose that’s because I watch mainly BBC4, PBS America, and Sky Arts these days!)

  • Liberal Neil 18th Nov '14 - 1:24pm

    Whoever said this should know better, but unless the Telegraph tells us who it is I don’t think it is fair to make assumptions. We have no way of knowing whether the person is a member of staff, a SpAd or just someone else involved in the party.

    I’m particularly surprised that Bill would make such an unnecessary ageist comment.

    Comments like these get made by people of all ages.

  • Caron
    You asked –” Who on earth has said in the hearing of the Telegraph that the party fears that Danny Alexander will lose his Inverness seat? ”

    It put me in mind of a similar rubbishing of a Liberal Democrat MP reported in the press. Nick Clegg was rubbishing Steve Webb on a flight in a plane seat next to a journalist from The Mirror. The irony is that Clegg was speaking to none other than Danny Alexander.

    Any electoral damage suffered in The Highlands as a result of this is tiny compared to the damage done by Danny himself spending four years endorsing 90% of the Conservatives’ economy policy.

    Danny’s own media appearances will also have damaged his prospects.
    Making him the Liberal Democrat economy spokes-person for the General Election will do him no favours at all in The Highlands or anywhere else next May.

  • Paul Pettinger 18th Nov '14 - 1:36pm

    I’m particularly surprised that Neil would present Bill’s valid observation as discriminatory.

  • Gordon Seekings 18th Nov '14 - 2:13pm

    Having just read this thread it may be worthwhile for readers to go back to the beginning and read what Simon Hebditch said “The usual tittle tattle from a booze filled lunch as Bill suggested. On the Danny story, would it be a disaster if he lost Inverness? He is one of the architects of the coalition and there needs to be a root and branch reform of the party and its leadership post the election.” and the reinforcement of this just above this posting from John Tilley “Danny’s own media appearances will also have damaged his prospects.”

    Irrespective of what views you may have about the party leader/change needed anybody who saw the live “discussion” between Martin Tod and Danny Alexander on the night of the Euro/Local elections debacle on BBC News will know that Danny is just not up to a high profile media job. The thought that crossed my mind and many others in that “discussion” was that Danny was like a rabbit caught in a headlight and, to mix metaphors, you could see the sheer terror in his eyes as he waited and wanted the ground to open up beneath him as he was so comprehensively demolished.

  • David Evans 18th Nov '14 - 2:41pm

    Caron “A strong, liberal voice and presence is needed. We have it.” It’s not Nick Clegg though, is it, Caron?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th Nov '14 - 2:44pm

    David Howell, the Liberal Democrats cut taxes for 26 million not rich people, exactly as we said we’d do. Also the Liberal Democrats have put in serious money to help disadvantaged kids in school. Ok, so I don’t like a good deal of the welfare reforms, but this “war on the poor” narrative is completely wrong.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th Nov '14 - 3:19pm

    Actually, Paul, I tend to agree that with Neil that Bill’s comment was unnecessarily ageist. While I think more advice could have been taken by the leadership from the few Lib Dems with experience in national government and the more with experience in local government, there were none with experience of Westminster government. We’ve all been learning, regardless of our age. The idea that old=good, young =bad is not at all appropriate.

  • Yesterday’s Survation poll of Scottish VI would give the SNP 52 Westminster seats,Labour 5, Tories 1, and Lib Dems 1.

    Now that doesn’t take account of geographical concentration of votes and incumbency but it may be that the strategist was just being realistic and managing expectations in what will be a very difficult election for both the Red and Yellow Tories in Scotland.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th Nov '14 - 3:24pm

    Gordon, I agree that the middle of the night interview between Danny and Martin Tod wasn’t Danny’s finest hour but he hadn’t slept in about 3 days – and, frankly, after the night we’d had, if he’d been all bouncy and smiley, I’d have been livid with him.

    I do have a concern about Danny’s ability to take people with him, though. Some of the stuff he did during the referendum was just such unmitigated doom. He has better material to work with on our contribution to the economy and the government. He’d better use it well and get us in the story, getting credit for more jobs, fairer taxes and better opportunities for young people which wouldn’t have happened without us.

  • Inverness: what is the fuss about, unless we have been burying our heads in the sand, it has been pretty apparent for the the last couple of years that we will probably only have 2 MPS from Scotland next year, Ross and Orkney/Shetland.. This person, who is reported as having said, this was only saying things as they are. To my mind it is great that someone is facing up to reality. With our present leadership and the malaise the party has got itself into, there will no improvement, will there?

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th Nov '14 - 3:54pm

    Oh, theakes, so nice to have your cheery input. Actually, in Scotland, things on the ground are not as gloomy as you might expect.

    I think the SNP will pick up seats but mainly across the central belt from Labour whose MPs have taken them for granted. I see no reason why we wouldn’t be able to hold on to every Lib Dem seat in Scotland if we continue to campaign as strongly as we have done. We can show that thinking in Scotland has come to meet our long-held ideas and that the Liberal Democrats are the guardians of the best constitutional settlement for Scotland.

  • Eddie Sammon 18th Nov '14 - 3:54pm

    The Lib Dems are still probably the best out of all the main parties, but I think the only way to get rid of any anti-Danny sentiment is for him to resign from the Treasury or the Lib Dems pull out of the coalition.

    Alan Johnson is partly right: the deficit was the raison d’etre and it hasn’t been sorted. However, Ed Miliband is not the remedy.

    Failing that, I would appreciate it if the party did more for the self-employed. Not through taxpayer funded schemes, but ideally through deregulation. We get hit through a lot of big charity and big government initiatives.

  • Passing thought: it is silly for the party to ignore the bloomin obvious. It is equally silly to pretend that the party is in control when 95% of the electorate appear to understand we are not. They keep telling us in opinion polls and the weekly elections that take place but for some reason it is ignored time and time again. If we are the masters of our own destiny then we are dictating that we are heading for …………………………….

  • @caron

    “I think the SNP will pick up seats but mainly across the central belt from Labour whose MPs have taken them for granted. I see no reason why we wouldn’t be able to hold on to every Lib Dem seat in Scotland …..”

    Really, even where you lose the incumbency factor in Gordon and NE Fife?

  • @caron

    “We can show that thinking in Scotland has come to meet our long-held ideas and that the Liberal Democrats are the guardians of the best constitutional settlement for Scotland.”

    We will see but you have already made clear that “Home Rule” is not on offer as Willie Rennie has said that we should not expect anything approaching federalism. Looks like tuition fees all over again to me.

  • Bill Le Breton 18th Nov '14 - 4:44pm

    Oh dear, I used the word ‘kid’. Well they are obviously not kids. It was using the word in terms of political experience.

    Neil will know that I once backed him for a very senior job when he was in years young, but in terms of experience and results ‘old for his years’. Not having Neil now in our hour of need close to the centre of things is mind boggling, but good news for where he is. Ditto a number of others whose talents would have been thoroughly exploited by all other Parties.

    We have paid dearly for the naivity of some of our senior but very inexperienced people and the mistakes of some who were put into positions for which they had no qualification.

    I don’t believe Westminster IS very different from Cardiff or Edinburgh. Nor is the media ‘dance’ very different from that of major region media centres such as Newcastle, Liverpool, Manchester, Birmingham or Leeds, yet none of that experience was appreciated.

    I remember even in the sleepy old Isle of Wight learning very quickly about how difficult press relations are. So we had literally hundreds of people whose experience as councillors would have helped avoid these mistakes.

    Why were they sidelined? Probably because they would not have been as compliant as those chosen.

    Also I do not think the strategy of targeting the soft Tory vote is disconnected with this. Why on earth would you accept an invitation to meet a journalist from the Telegraph, or indeed give someone more junior the go ahead to do so, unless you were interested in getting a message through to Telegraph readers?

    It really is the strategy that has been wrong from the beginning and that means from before Election Day 2010. My booklet on Number 10 lists over twenty highly paid members of staff attached to the leader’s office. All the appointments follow from the original strategic decisions. There is nothing wrong in that. Everything should follow the chosen strategy. The mistake is selecting that particular strategy in the first place and then holding doggedly to it despite its obvious failure. And keeping the same people in place making the same mistakes.

    Of course Paddy has reversed this strategy in terms of campaigning. We are obviously not putting all our resources into looking for soft Tories in our target seats. It is just that the Leader and his staff’s strategy, call it the political strategy, has not changed. And so, Paddy takes us one step forward and the ‘staff’ take us two steps backwards.

    On the ground, in our target seats we are fighting on four fronts – roughly swap SNP in Scotland for UKIP elsewhere. Friday will see the pressure on us for our former 2010 liberal Democrat voters intensify. The soft Tory strategy plans into the hands of our Coalition partners, and the Labour Party and the SNP and the UKIP and the greens.

  • Caron, we have to do something very quick. Otherwise. I hate to remind you that I forecast a massacre at the Euro elections, and it happened. If we had faced the obvious 6 months before that election we may have staved off that disaster. It is no good drifting on the way we are. We are going nowhere and we all know that.,

  • David Evans 18th Nov '14 - 5:45pm

    Caron. “I see no reason why we wouldn’t be able to hold on to every Lib Dem seat in Scotland …” Sadly, the people of Scotland do not agree with you, and they are the ones whose votes count. I’m afraid this never ending willingness to hide from reality will prove to be just another one of those dreams, where, even after four years, some people can’t bear to own up to it being a nightmare. If we hold five of our MPs in Scotland it will be a massive vote of confidence in individual MPs. I hope for three, but fear it will be only one. However, none of it will be a vote of confidence Liberal Democracy nor in those who continuously said everything would be fine and persuaded people to sit on their hands and let things continually drift downwards.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 18th Nov '14 - 5:47pm

    theakes, it was obvious that the Euros would be the most dangerous electoral point of the whole parliament. It always is. As a good Doctor Who fan, I always take the advice of the Doctor. He said something in the series finale that went something like “Those who hope run fast, those who fear only doom dawdle.” Actually it might not have been the finale, it might have been the one with the mummy on the train. But I’d prefer to have hope – and every time I speak to voters, I have reason to hope more. It’s much better out there than it was in 2011. People are ready to talk to us again because they can see that we’ve done some good stuff.

    Why not try doing some hoping yourself. Endless negativity gets you down.

  • Liberal Neil 18th Nov '14 - 5:53pm

    Thanks Bill. You did, and I am still very grateful for the confidence you had in me at the time, and that’s also why I was a little surprised at the phrase you chose to use.

    I agree with a lot of what you’ve written there, and many of the other comments.

    It is certainly the case that the top of the party is light on real campaigning experience at the moment and that it often shows in some of the decisions that are made. In particular the party is not good at tapping in to a lot of the experience that is out there.

    (On a personal note – I chose to drop out of a senior role about six years ago due to a very serious health problem that I wasn’t recovering from. The current combination of roles I have suits me very well, and I do get a fair bit of input into quite a bit of national stuff.)

  • Caron, it is not being negative, it’s trying to be realistic. Once reality is accepted then we can do something positive that may put it right. We need to lift the weight that is on our shoulders. We need to change something significant. All the polls indicate that we are not getting back those voters who went from us to Labour in 2010, they seem to be the most settled part of the electorate. Oh I wish I was at Lib Dem HQ as a strategist!!!!!

  • Paul in Wokingham 18th Nov '14 - 6:14pm

    Well it has been coming, hasn’t it? After all the bouncing around the 7% mark a new poll just released from Opinium puts LD at 5%. Undoubtedly an oulier, but still… I believe that it was David Laws who predicted this would happen although presumably not less than 6 months before the GE. Is this really what was expected from those well compensated “senior strategists”?

  • “It’s much better out there than it was in 2011. ”

    Caron – polls in November 2011 were between 7 and 14%. Polls in November 2014 are between 6 and 11%.
    Scottish only, Westminster voting intention, late 2011/early 2012 7 & 8%, Oct-Nov 2014 between 3 and 6%.
    That is not “much better”.

    We have had this EVERY year since 2011. Leading party figures saying the polls are better, local elections are better, internal polling is better and every year in actual electoral tests in the local elections the projected vote share falls, and the trend line of polls has been steadily tracking downwards all year.

    “I see no reason why we wouldn’t be able to hold on to every Lib Dem seat in Scotland if we continue to campaign as strongly as we have done. ”

    On current ratings, how? Say the performance is 8% – that would be around 195,000 votes on 2010 turnout levels. If the Lib Dems poll an average of 15,000 in each of the 11 held seats (and winning will be about that level – which is a drop from 2010) there are 30,000 votes left to share out among the remaining 48 seats – so an AVERAGE of 625 votes each! That’s just not a credible scenario.

    So your “no reason” requires a fairly significant increase in poll ratings between now and next May – so where is that going to come from.

    There is a belief among a huge number of Lib Dems that things will get better because they want them to. Saying “it’s better on the ground than the polls say” is a frequent line from party’s that are heading for defeat – I’m struggling to think of an instance when it actually came true.

  • Bill Le Breton 18th Nov '14 - 6:25pm

    Neil, appreciate what you are saying, and can understand where you are coming from. Good to know you have an imput.
    B

  • David Evans 18th Nov '14 - 6:39pm

    Caron, when one is getting things so wrong, the most dangerous electoral point is the moment after the next election when one re-rationalises one’s mantra of things will get better from now on. They haven’t for four years now and those who chose to ignore the message from the voters have continued to make the same mistakes again and again. Do we have to sacrifice Liberal Democracy on the altar of “I refuse to accept I was wrong,” or will just one person with influence have the courage to say “Enough is Enough!” while something can still be done?

  • Bill Le Breton 18th Nov '14 - 6:40pm

    In Hywel we have another great campaigner. Winning Burnley ranks among the most astounding achievements in modern political history.

    Here he shares some of his experience, “Saying “it’s better on the ground than the polls say” is a frequent line from parties that are heading for defeat.”

    It could be Dutch Courage.

    But it is also an excuse for not making hard but necessary decisions.

    After Friday we may look back with envy on the 5% rating recorded by Opinium.

  • It is hopefully all coming together, any sensible political party would make some very important managerial and strategy changes this coming weekend, I still happen to believe we are both rational and sensible.
    Just a thought Caron, 2011 I was agent in a ward where LIb Dem topped the poll. That person has now left the party!
    Membership and activity in that ward has plummeted. Believe me things are worse than 2011.

  • “As a good Doctor Who fan, I always take the advice of the Doctor. ”

    “You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common: they don’t alter their views to fit the facts; they alter the facts to fit their views.”

  • Tony Dawson 18th Nov '14 - 8:38pm

    @RC

    “This sounds like somebody who knew exactly what they were doing. It’s just they have it in for Danny Alexander and don’t mind if they damage the party in the process.”

    I am trying to work out how much this unnamed person might have damaged the Party compared with the damage inflicted to date by Danny Alexander and Nick Clegg. Five per cent? Ten at a push?

    People may mock the ‘senior strategist’ tag by which this well-fed gossip is described but it is very likely indeed that this is how he described himself. But while we all may have ‘senior moments’, the Party’s ‘strategists’ suffer the condition in perpetuity.

    There is nothing at all wrong with Lib Dems getting into government again in the future. All we have to do is ensure that next time the Party is led by people who know how to negotiate, operate successfully within a coalition and care for the Party which got them elected.

  • Exiled Scot 18th Nov '14 - 8:52pm

    The ‘senior strategist’ may well be a callow youth with no campaigning experience, but even a stopped clock is right twice a day and he is right about Alexander.

    We’ve had this head in the sand nonsense from Caron in the run up to the Scottish general election, where it was inconceivable that the party would get wiped out. But it did – failing to win a single first past the post seat on the Scottish mainland. And that was 2011 when we were polling higher in opinion polls and local elections.

    Outside of Orkney and Sheltand it’s difficult to see any Lib Dem returned north of the border next year (with the possible exception of Kennedy assuming he can be bothered).

  • Tony Dawson

    “All we have to do is ensure that next time the Party is led by people who know how to negotiate”

    The negotiating was a tually done rather well, the problems came before and after that point.

  • Survation had a new Scottish poll out for the Daily Record this morning. It showed the same sort of surge in SNP support that we’ve seen in other recent Scottish polls from Ipsos MORI, YouGov and Panelbase – in this case Westminster voting intentions are CON 17%, LAB 24%, LDEM 6%, SNP 46%, UKIP 5% (tabs are here.) I don’t imagine uniform swing calculators are really any sort of guide to how things would work out in a re-alignment of this sort of huge scale, but on paper these figures would give the SNP 52 seats in Scotland and Labour just five, and in practice it would surely produce a huge number of SNP gains. The question remains whether Labour can mount a recovery in Scotland prior to the election once they have elected a new leader, or whether this SNP surge will be maintained.

    This afternoon there was also some reporting of a new Opinium poll (tabs here). Opinium don’t seem to have officially released voting intention figures, but they are provided as crossbreaks on a new poll, so we can see that the VI figures would have been CON 34%, LAB 33%, LDEM 5%, UKIP 18%, GRN 4%. This would be the first Tory lead from Opinium since the Omnishambles budget, and the lowest any poll has shown the Lib Dems so far this Parliament.

  • Eddie Sammon 19th Nov '14 - 4:36am

    To be fair to Danny, this is a good interview:

    http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/nov/18/danny-alexander-accuses-tories-labour-grand-deception

    The Lib Dems badly need to sort out their manifesto. It’s not credible to approach the next election with tax cuts and ring-fenced budgets. Yes it won’t all be doom and gloom, but it will be difficult.

  • John Roffey 19th Nov '14 - 6:04am

    @ Bolano

    “You know, the very powerful and the very stupid have one thing in common: they don’t alter their views to fit the facts; they alter the facts to fit their views.”

    Although these possibilities do exist – here I believe it is a case of a brilliant deception by NC – ably supported by a group of the Party’s most influential MPs.

    The deception is that NC, as leader of the Party, could not have said ‘NO’! No to many truly disabled being found fit for work and loosing benefits; no to the bedroom tax; no to the vilification of the unemployed when there were clearly too few jobs: no to zero hour contracts; no to excessively priced pay-day loans etc, etc. In short ‘NO’ to all of the measures that have been introduced, with callous indifference, of the suffering of the weakest and least vulnerable in our society. Whilst at the same time ensuring that the shareholders and executives of global corporations have benefitted handsomely.

    Of course it is the Party’s members that have been deceived into believing that NC had no choice but to agree to these measures by his feigned concern for this or that group in his public utterances – but he could have said ‘NO’ to the measures that have cause such suffering.

    The voters of course have not been deceived – they know that NC could have prevented the worst excesses of the Coalition – that is why the Party’s standing has fallen from 23% in 2010 to what looks to be perhaps as low as 5% – this will be confirmed when the Rochester and Strood are known and the Party loses its deposit … again!

    I suspect that NC knows that the Party cannot hold on to enough seats to form another coalition with the Tories next year so that he can remain DPM – but whilst the slimmest chance exists he is prepared to bravely continue with this strategy – which he knows will either destroy the Party’s future for a decade or two – or lead to its total extinction.

    I also suspect that he has accepted that the Party will be of no further use to him after the GE and he will be obliged to take a lucrative high ranking EU job or one found for him by his family or friends in some other field.

    His genius for deception will no doubt be valued elsewhere!

  • David Evans 19th Nov '14 - 7:21am

    PSI – “The negotiating was actually done rather well, the problems came before and after that point.” Was it? Who with any understanding of the tribal hatred in British politics thought that a referendum on AV was a good idea? Giving in on Tuition Fees? Allowing a Tory (Pickles for goodness sake) to be put in charge of our area of strength (Local Government)? I could go on, but I think you get my point.

  • “They truly are the Scottish UKIP, pushing divisive politics and policies totally detached from reality at every opportunity.”

    This made me chuckle. 🙂

    NOW the mystery as to why no-one wants to vote for you is explained! Damn the SNP and UKIP for doing what you used to do, promising the moon and offering self contradictory promises to different interest groups.. It so isn’t fair!

    (Very pleased that the culpable Caledonian ginger is on his way out by the way).

  • SIMON BANKS 19th Nov '14 - 6:34pm

    Do papers ever say, “a junior strategist” (“a senior strategist”) or “a party member who’s given the party advice on a couple of things and is quite friendly with one of its MPs” (“a senior Liberal Democrat”)?

  • andJohn Innes 19th Nov '14 - 6:38pm

    I think you are really correcyt on Danny. Realy hope he retsins his seat.

    The Sainsbury advert does not glorify war … rsther it breaks my heart by showing what might have been.

  • Caron said “Endless negativity gets you down.”

    Yes, it can do that, but it isn’t fatal.

    It’s enndless positivity – whistling in the dark, ignoring the facts and carrying on regardless – which will kill this Party.

    Probably quite soon!

  • David,
    Absolutely right

  • Paul Pettinger 20th Nov '14 - 2:17pm

    Caron Lindsey said “Actually, Paul, I tend to agree that with Neil that Bill’s comment was unnecessarily ageist. While I think more advice could have been taken by the leadership from the few Lib Dems with experience in national government and the more with experience in local government, there were none with experience of Westminster government. We’ve all been learning, regardless of our age. The idea that old=good, young =bad is not at all appropriate.”

    I think defending Nick Clegg’s appointments on the grounds of ageism is unfortunate. Bill Rogers and Shirley Williams have experience of being in Government at Westminster. They met with Nick Clegg when the coalition was formed, offering their counsel, but this is something he hasn’t taken up. I think the question why a leader in Nick Clegg’s position would not want to tap into the advice and wisdom they might offer is an awkward one.

    A whole generation of people have been discounted by the Leader. For whatever reason, their face hasn’t seemed to fit, and we have lost out on their wisdom, experience and judgement. Instead, a cohort of people who broadly share the leader’s narrow outlook, including his relative inexperience, have been appointed. It was obvious this was happening when I worked in Cowley Street for Liberal Youth from 06 to 09, and it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise. If Nick Clegg was aspiring to become a Conservative MEP as late as 1995, only joined the Party in 1997, and became its leader two and half years after becoming an MP, then it is little wonder that he should appoint people who repeat his own shortcomings – naturally bright people, who lack knowledge and experience. Sadly Clegg also adds to this arrogance, a toxic mix, and is further reason I think he must be replaced as leader ASAP – we are heading to disaster under his watch. In fairness, members should not though direct frustration at staff. The Party does have a more general problem with abusiveness, and (as in most abusive cultures) it starts at the very top, in our case with the abuse of power and trust.

  • paul barker 20th Nov '14 - 4:44pm

    I really dont get why any Libdem would see any Journalist as anything but a potential Enemy, if you have to talk to them argue for our Party.
    I dont know anything about Dannys Constituency but I would have thought the problem for any Libdem in Scotland is the massive dominance of the SNP. Few Voters care what Government jobs their MPs have unless they get in the way of Constituency duties.

  • paul barker 20th Nov ’14 – 4:44pm
    I really dont get why any Libdem would see any Journalist as anything but a potential Enemy,

    I agree with paul barker. But I bet if either he or I repeated this sentence in the Charlotte Henry thread it would be deleted.

  • @John Roffey

    I increasingly find myself coming to the conclusion that NC is just, simply misunderstood: that he is a bureaucrat who has somehow deceived both himself and others into believing that he’s a politician who deals in the profoundest realpolitik. That the poor go to the wall not to for any reason of political advantage, but purely for the sake of the smooth running of power – that to turn round and shout “No” is unforgivable because it’s throwing a spanner in the machine. His coalition dream is working together more efficiently, and that this working more efficiently will trickle down benefits to the rest of society in a manner nebulous in the extreme. An idealist – probably more so than some that surround and support him.

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