LibLink: Are the Liberal Democrats a Lea & Perrins party?

Liberal Democrat Political SauceIn today’s Telegraph, Isobel Hardman says that Nick Clegg is targeting the green, metropolitan  middle-class “who fret about whether they are doing the recycling properly.”

Work is being done on the “repeal” sections of the party’s manifesto, explaining how the Lib Dems will reverse certain Coalition reforms, including the unpopular employee shares-for-rights scheme. But, Hardman says some party figures want more distinctive Lib Dem thinking:

To avoid being seen as a Lea & Perrins party – one that is capable of improving any government, but shouldn’t be taken alone.

Nick Clegg, according to Hardman, is delivering a series of speeches based on detailed polling by party strategist Ryan Coetzee of the 25% of voters who would either vote Lib Dem tomorrow or consider doing so.

Mr Coetzee listed 110 policy propositions, stating the negatives of each: it was made clear, for example, that a rise in the personal allowance for income tax would have to be funded by public-spending cuts. The answers have shaped the content of Clegg’s speeches on Europe, education and the environment. Further polling next month will do the same for more interventions.

Hardman says that Michael Gove plays very badly with this 25% but the environment polls well. Hence Nick Clegg’s attacks on the Education Secretary and his speech on Wednesday “arguing that the Lib Dems were the only greens left in the village.”

Mr Clegg’s dream voters, Hardman suggests, are middle class, able to afford green taxes, and rather metropolitan in their outlook.

These voters are the sort who fret about whether they are doing the recycling properly.

Isobel Hardman concludes:

Unfortunately, this unashamed appeal to such a minority worries those who believe Liberalism should capture masses of voters. But it is better than being a party that believes in nothing more than just seasoning the big politicians, and constantly saying “no”?

* Andy Boddington is a Lib Dem councillor in Shropshire. He blogs at andybodders.co.uk.

Read more by or more about .
This entry was posted in LibLink and News.
Advert

11 Comments

  • Richard Shaw 8th Nov '13 - 5:25pm

    As a Sheffield MP, I’m sure Nick would rather we were a Henderson’s Relish (the Sheffield-based and veggie-friendly condiment) party than a Lea & Perrins one. 😉

  • Bill le Breton 8th Nov '13 - 6:28pm

    Grayson Perry did a wonderful study of these types in 2012 here: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/in-the-best-possible-taste-grayson-perry/4od#3388586
    Just anxious to do good, he concluded. Deep anxiety.

  • Little Jackie Paper 8th Nov '13 - 7:03pm

    Bill le Breton – The Modern Parents in Viz magazine came to my mind.

  • paul barker 8th Nov '13 - 9:07pm

    With only 3% in the last LDV survey expecting us to improve on the 2010 result this strategy should get wide support in The Party. I think we can do alot better than 2010 but thats because I expect 2 major shifts in the next year, the slow deflation of the UKIP bubble & the Labour splits breaking out in public. Both changes will open up Political space for us.

  • Andrew Tennant 9th Nov '13 - 10:45am

    I’m not keen on party positions that move based on polling results. We should make the liberal argument and take people with us, not abandon liberalism for populism in a vain attempt to become more popular.

  • Adam Corlett 11th Nov '13 - 11:25am

    “Mr Coetzee listed 110 policy propositions, stating the negatives of each: it was made clear, for example, that a rise in the personal allowance for income tax would have to be funded by public-spending cuts.”

    Has this been made clear to anyone else? I would have thought we would fund it through tax increases.

  • Matthew Huntbach 11th Nov '13 - 5:25pm

    Andy Boddington

    Mr Clegg’s dream voters, Hardman suggests, are middle class, able to afford green taxes, and rather metropolitan in their outlook

    This throws away quite a lot of the sort of people who used to vote for us.

    There is a big chunk of people who are lower down the class scale, not so comfortable in terms of wealth and income, and definitely not so comfortable in the recent economic squeeze. We used to compete with Labour for these. They formed the bedrock of our support in those many parts of the country where Labour has disappeared or become ineffectual so we are the main opposition to the Tories – that’s where most of our MPs come from. We have also relied on that sort of person to win votes in areas where Labour is strong, but so strong and complacent that people have got fed up with them and want an alternative which is not the Tories – we’ve always won a few seats that way. In fact I suggest that sort of person is who MOST of our MPs relied on to win their seats. So if we’re throwing away these people, then, MPs, say bye-bye to your seats.

    What we are seeing from Ms Hardman is that the elite in our society, top politicians, newspapers commentators, are so out of touch that they can hardly even see people who are not like them. So naturally when they think in terms of the LibDem vote, they think in terms of people like themselves – comfortable middle class types. So they just suppose politics is about competing for their vote, everything else is a bit remote and viewed, if at all, through ridiculous stereotypes. They don’t know about all the work the Liberals and Liberal Democrats have been putting in over the decades in building up their vote, so they just assume the LibDem vote comes from fancy people like themselves who are a bit too trendy to vote Tory, and who are attracted to the LibDems because of the image put out by the party nationally. Throughout my membership of the party, when it has listened to the advice of this type, it has done badly. Sure, there are a few votes there, but not enough for us to be anything but a very minor player. If we had a proportional system we could get by on this, bumping along on 5-15% of the vote like many continental liberal parties. But if we are to win under FPTP, it just won’t do.

  • David Allen 11th Nov '13 - 6:55pm

    “Mr Clegg’s dream voters, Hardman suggests, are middle class, able to afford green taxes, and rather metropolitan in their outlook.” In other words, they are the well-off pale pink Tories.

    As Andrew Tennant says, it is not a great idea to use focus group polling to identify the small group of people most likely to support you, and then simply pander to all their beliefs and prejudices. That way, you end up identifying perfectly with one tiny fragment of society, you stop thinking about anybody else, and you stop bothering to think about new ideas.

    If the Greens did it, they’d identify cyclists as their key supporters, and they’d then kid themselves that making cycling compulsory would be a great vote winner. In much the same way, the Lib Dems are focusing on a small, diminishing cohort of people who like to talk pale pink, and then vote pale blue.

    Well, it is much more comforting to talk to a few people who praise you than to go out and try to win back the multitudes who now hate you. However, hugging the Cleggite comfort zone will only result in single-digit polling figures which continue to drift downwards.

  • David Allen 11th Nov '13 - 7:03pm

    Isobel Hardman (using a direct quote from the Telegraph, not the different version with added question-mark which appears above) said:

    “..this unashamed appeal to such a minority worries those who believe Liberalism should capture masses of voters. But it is better than being a party that believes in nothing more than just seasoning the big politicians, and constantly saying “no”. ”

    In other words: If Strategy A is poor, while Strategy B is dreadful, then let’s go for Strategy A!

  • Paul in Twickenham 11th Nov '13 - 7:34pm

    @David Allen – On a thread on this forum I recently said that it seemed to me that Mr. Clegg was targeting “a small subset of the self-satisfied middle”.

    And lo and behold it turns out that the party has employed the “brand gurus” at Perfect Curve, or whatever, and they’ve come up with an almost identical characterization : “the sort who worry about whether they’re doing the recycling properly”.

    Here’s the difference : I thought that articulating the demographic would immediately highlight that it was a hiding to nothing for a national party, but apparently not.

  • Simon Banks 11th Nov '13 - 9:25pm

    What do you mean, you can’t take Worcester sauce alone? What else would I put in my pint mugs?

Post a Comment

Lib Dem Voice welcomes comments from everyone but we ask you to be polite, to be on topic and to be who you say you are. You can read our comments policy in full here. Please respect it and all readers of the site.

To have your photo next to your comment please signup your email address with Gravatar.

Your email is never published. Required fields are marked *

*
*
Please complete the name of this site, Liberal Democrat ...?

Advert



Recent Comments

  • Chris Moore
    Peter, good stuff, but as you're aware, many Tories see the EU as a socialist affront to free enterprise. The reality does not match up to your or their ster...
  • Peter Martin
    @ Martin @ Chris @ Leekliberal, I've always been puzzled why so many who claim to be on the left seem to have fallen in love with the most neoliberal of capi...
  • David Raw
    @ Alex Macfie "We were never even in contention in most of the Blue Wall seats we are now targeting". ...... and what makes you so sure they won't return t...
  • Cassie
    Tories lied to farmers ('you'll be better off out of the EU/CAP'). And the likes of Coffey showed an ignorance of rural life only matched by Labour's prejudice ...
  • Martin Bennett
    Chris Moore (and Leekliberal): P Martin is left wing on his say so, however in a choice between maintaining living standards for the worse off and Brexit, he go...