New Party Election Broadcast: Look left, look right then cross

The new election broadcast being broadcast right now on BBC1 moves from the open doors theme of the last two to emphasising the moderating influence of the Liberal Democrats. It’s that centre ground theme again that we’ve seen in the posters launched last week. Remember that few of us reading this will be the broadcast’s target audience. There is a Scottish version with a different soundtrack to incorporate the SNP.

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26 Comments

  • Steve Comer 1st Apr '15 - 6:46pm

    This is pretty dire and uninspiring stuff. “Not left, not right, but forward” was a slogan that worked 50 years ago when Grimond was Leader, but I simply can’t see this form of ‘double-negative’ campaigning inspiring any modern voter.
    (the only good thing about this PPB is that Clegg isn’t in it!)

    We used to say on Focus leaflets “don’t believe what they SAY believe what they DO” Yet in the PPB we’re not saying what we’ve done or what we would do. Ironically the article by Paul Bustow on the care act below gives a positive reason for voting for us, and in a few days Steve Webb’s pension reforms will kick in (another chance to plug the triple lock too, another chance to plug our achievements). So why areen’t we highlighting what we’ve achieved? You know “A record of action – a promise of more” etc.

    I really feel conflicted being so negative about our message, in some ways it would be easier to say nothing. Yet its no good criticizing our message after May 7th – we need to take corrective action NOW to put this right. Sometimes you have to do this in campaigns (eg the Ettrick Bridge summit in 1983?). We are at 8% in the polls, similar to the level of support the Liberal Party ended the 1970 election with. Yet back then we left nearly half the seats uncontested, so our poll rating now is actually likely to be even worse.

    I know we activists are not the target audience for this drivel – but who is? I can’rt remember who warned against the dangers of playing a “fuddled fiddle in the muddled middle” but they had a point………..and whenever I hear the words “anchored in the centre” I think the ‘w’ at the start of that phrase must be silent ( a bit like the ‘c’ in rap music!).

  • Those who have seen the broadcast seem confused .When can we have a PEB that addresses the big issues that chime with the electorate?

  • I’m not quite sure what to make of this (ignoring whether this is a good slogan/message/theme/whatever:

    The “look left, look right” phrase is (at least to certain generations) a reminder of the Green Cross Code so totally associated with pedestrians. So strange to use the imagery of a car.

    And not sure about the sole use of a (relatively) well to do looking middle class white male as the only “face” in the broadcast. That said the recent polls I’ve seen usually seem to have greater support among females than males so there might be reasons for that.

    Oh – and filming the car from the front means that when they are indicating to turn left it is the right hand indicator that is flashing!

  • A terrible fear for tomorrows debate. Is Nick Clegg going to follow the line of tonight,s PEB and spend his entire time attacking Labour and the Conservatives?. His success in 2010 came from keeping out of the slanging match and pushing Lib Dem policies.Tomorrow he can talk about the successes of the coalition and our future direction.Failure to do so will fritter way half of our media presence and the only time we are visible before postal votes are returned.

  • John Minard 1st Apr '15 - 8:08pm

    Was that the election broadcast idea the GREENs rejected? Good grief – ‘amber gambler’ – who’s in charge at HQ???

  • I just watched it on TV and I thought it was fine, better than. I expected. There’s no point pretending LDs will ever have a majority so spelling out actual party policies are a waste of time (and voters won’t believe them anyway) so might as well go for the ‘keep enough of us in to avoid either party having a majority ‘ line.

  • @Roger H

    My hope is that NC largely ignores the other parties and speaks primarily to the voters.

    If he sets the his debate framework right at the beginning (LAB – too much borrowing. CON – too much cutting. PC+SNP – want to rip up our country. UKIP – want to rip us out of Europe, GRN – want to tip us from reality), then speak as a voice of sanity as the others bicker then I’d be pleased.

    Turning it into a seven way argument would be a major mistake. Speak the voter, look down the barrell of the camera and talk to people. We aren’t trying to convert the leaders of the other parties, we need to be saying “Do you really want this lot left to look after the country?”. Not Centrism per se, but good Liberal sense!

  • @ Caron
    “The new election broadcast being broadcast right now on BBC1”

    I happened to be watching BBC2 at 17.55 and turned over from the political boardcast to BBC1 and so watched it at 18.55!

    This is not a positive reason to vote for us. If I was either a soft Tory or a soft Lab I think this might make me rule out voting for the Lib Dems.

    As others have said we could have talked about what we achieved in government. I quite like the line about personal allowance increases which includes the statement that David Cameron rejected them in the debates last time.

  • ATF the difficulty in what you suggest is that many voters remember the last time Clegg ‘spoke to the voters’ in a television debate and how that turned out. The earnest look has been debunked!

  • @Phyllis

    Perhaps, but what else is he to do?

  • Stephen Hesketh 1st Apr '15 - 10:40pm

    … and one from the Mark Pack collection:

    http://www.markpack.org.uk/130605/watch-tim-farrons-superb-video-on-why-people-should-vote-liberal-democrat/

    This one demonstrates the difference between liberal Centrism and Liberal Democracy.

    One is OK-ish but bland and on auto pilot, the other is heartfelt and points the way towards a positive Liberal future.

  • David Evans 1st Apr '15 - 11:33pm

    ATF – Nick should have resigned last May. That he didn’t and the fact that when people listen to him, they will think of 2010 and “an end to broken promises” is entirely his fault.

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Apr '15 - 5:37am

    To those with nothing but complaints about the video I challenge them to come up with a better theme. It’s not going to be credible for the party to position itself on the left after five years with the Conservatives and a libertarian anti government theme would be a disaster too.

    The party can tone-down its emphasis on centrism, but it should be part of the campaign because of how close the party actually is to the centre-ground. Angela Merkel recently won her third national election and second landslide on a boring but competent strategy. Obama won the 2012 election by banging on about the middle class, which would have been anathema to many grass roots supporters.

  • Eddie Sammon
    Your question has already been answered.

    See —
    Stephen Hesketh 1st Apr ’15 – 10:40pm
    … and one from the Mark Pack collection:

    http://www.markpack.org.uk/130605/watch-tim-farrons-superb-video-on-why-people-should-vote-liberal-democrat/

    This one demonstrates the difference between liberal Centrism and Liberal Democracy.

  • Loved the video! An excited toddler starting his journey in life and a thoughtful Dad.
    But then I’m just a sentimental old biddy … the voter of a certain age that the Tories think they have bagged!!
    Heh ho …. Go for it tonight Nick!

  • Eddie Sammon 2nd Apr '15 - 10:19am

    John Tilley, I’ve just watched the Farron video and whilst it is impressive there is hardly any difference. It reminds me of the internal wrangles over whether the party should be for a “strong economy” or a “fair economy”.

    Farron is positive about wealth creation and doesn’t mention raising more taxes. I mean, it’s splitting hairs.

    The big difference is the Farron video makes a positive case, but negative campaigning is important, especially for a third party – people need to know why they shouldn’t just vote for one of the bigger ones.

    Regards

  • While the Tim Farron video does not talk of restricting the Conservatives and Labour and has some good ideas in it, it misses the central reason why we exist which is to protect the people. We talk about protecting the planet, but don’t talk about protecting the people from being exploited and damaged. We don’t talk about that by protecting people we increase their liberty. That we will ensure that people don’t live in poverty and need to rely on the charity of others (such as food banks).

  • Tony Greaves 2nd Apr '15 - 12:36pm

    Steve Comer – do you really think that having me say here what I think about this rubbish will help anyone? There are times I am a bit relieved that I am banned by law from voting in this General Election.

    By the way, the awful slogan NLNRBF came from the dark days of the 1950s when the Liberal Party was philosophically pretty much adrift, and Jo Grimond got rid of it as soon as he could after becoming Leader (his calling cry was for the Liberal Party to become the “non-socialist progressive party of the left” and to form a building block of a “realignment of the left”.

    NLNRBF reappeared briefly in the early 1980s when it was reinvented by some of the technocrat and ex-Labour rightwing wings of the SDP, but it was soon sat upon by more sensible people in the SDP with the encouragement of the Liberals.

    Tony Greaves

  • I tried to comment on it last night but for some reason Lib Dem Voice wouldn’t let me.

    My gut reaction was I found it uncomfortable to watch. I’m also not sure of the end when it seems to be suggesting that we should illegally drive into a pedestrian zone is one we should be pursuing.

    It could also be easy to parody.

  • I get what they were trying to do, but really uninspiring, there is nothing in that to tell people why they should “cross”. Why would people vote for us? If the only answer we have is we’re not Tories or Labour then we’re struggling as UKIP, Greens, SNP, Plaid Cymru and even the Monster Raving Loony party can point to that.

    I just hope Nick can hold his own tonight as it could end up being a disaster for us given the exposure it’ll give the Greens.

  • Alex Sabine 2nd Apr '15 - 6:31pm

    @ Eddie
    “Obama won the 2012 election by banging on about the middle class, which would have been anathema to many grassroots supporters.”

    Bear in mind that there is a difference in the connotation of ‘middle class’ in the US. Whereas here it is a group which politicians sometimes seem embarrassed to appear to be helping (unless the prefix ‘squeezed’ can be added), in the US “supporting the middle class” is the Holy Grail across the political spectrum, and has been for a long time.

    The former New York governor Mario Cuomo, a great orator whose 1984 keynote speech at the Democratic Convention enthralled left-liberals as much as Obama’s show-stopping performance 20 years later, extolled “the heart of our constituency – the middle class, the people not rich enough to be worry-free, but not poor enough to be on welfare”.

    The Democrats proudly proclaim their support for “middle-class tax cuts” and would not be in the least embarrassed by decile charts showing middle-to-upper income groups gaining from them. Obama’s rhetoric on the middle class is squarely in the Democratic tradition, and certainly doesn’t offend the sensibilities of grassroots supporters. There is no market in American politics for denigrating the middle class.

  • Tam langley 3rd Apr '15 - 10:03am

    I agree with you Pat. Great to see a thoughtful young dad as the ‘hero’ of the video. PPBs are an opportunity to tell an engaging story, instead of politicians talking to/at us, for which there are hundreds of other opportunities so I’m glad the party has recognised the opportunity. Great film.

  • Jane Ann Liston 4th Apr '15 - 2:11pm

    Anybody have a link to the Scottish version?

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