Opinion: How the Lib Dems should win the next election

In the light of the fantastic tailspin the Tories are currently in, is it too ambitious to seek to position the Lib Dems as THE opposition?

Lib Dem blogger ‘Cicero’ comments that we have an impressive array of policies, a clear philosophical underpinning, and a positive glut of sensible debates raging at any time. Armed with these powerful weapons, we could enter the next, febrile period leading up to the election by stating clearly that there is only one party which can claim to be an alternative to Labour, and setting out in annoyingly clear soundbites just why that is.

So here’s the pitch: borrowing from that well known Liberal, Lenin, we could adopt a simple slogan along the lines of: ‘lower taxes, less poverty, more freedom’. In addition to this we could call ourselves ‘the opposition’ in everything we do. Not the ‘real opposition’, the ‘real alternative’ or any such entirely worthy phrasing. Simply: ‘the opposition’.

My anecdotal experience of highly successful campaigns in this part of Oxfordshire is that anything seeps into the general consciousness if it is repeated often enough.

There’s nothing like ambition, and it would be good to see this put across a bit more aggressively by our extremely able team in Westminster.

* Andy Crick is Researcher on Lib Dem-controlled Vale of White Horse District Council in Oxfordshire.

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  • Alex Feakes 1st Aug '07 - 4:52pm

    I like the idea. Perhaps swap ‘less inequality’ for ‘less poverty’ as it would cover a number of areas.

    “Lower taxes, less inequality, more freedom”
    “Lower taxes, more equality, more freedom”
    “Fairer taxes, less poverty, more freedom”

    This could be a great Lib Dem parlour game…

  • Iit is hard to say lower taxes when we want to raise some, lower others and leave the overall level of taxaton unchanged!

    I think that we used “Freedom, opportunity, justice” a few years ago as our slogan, but my memory ay be faulty.

  • Hywel Morgan 1st Aug '07 - 9:08pm

    Alex – less inequality sounds a little bit oxymoronic though.

    PLus in a technical sense liberalism isn’t about equality except in the sense of equality of opportunity rather than outcome.

    I quite liked “it’s about freedom” which was “in vogue” a few years back.

  • This is the kind of subject for which there are infinite variations. The point I sought to make was one of simplicity above all else. For example, less inequality is clearly more accurate but is it clear enough?

    ‘It’s about freedom’ remains a first class slogan, as does ‘Freedom, fairness, trust’.

  • “Life, Love and Liberty!” is my choice, as it has an appeal that can play everywhere from deepest Nebraska to darkest Nasiriyah, so I’m sure Newcastle and Northampton wouldn’t feel excluded either.

    While I’m anxious for the LDs to be a party of government, I’d offer the warning that the route taken to power has a direct effect on the way it is exercised.

    Even with the largest popular vote, under current electoral calculations, we’d still not be considered for more than a junior coalition role. Such a scenario would make us a hostage to the fortune and unity of parliamentary votes and could cause lasting electoral damage.

    I’d rather wait for a majority of 250 on a three-way split across the country in the medium-term, where our reforms wouldn’t be hamstrung and a clear cross-party mandate for electoral sense existed.

    The third scenario, where we replace one of the players in the current duopoly (either by the disintegration of one or their merger) would take 15-25 years. This is too long, and leaves the political dynamic unaltered for real reforms to be brought about anyway.

    So if we know what cause we are fighting for, we must know the course of events we should be following in order to introduce the effective changes required.

  • I’m afraid slogans (however snappy) do not make an electoral victory.

  • Slogans alone are empty, but they remain one means by which a wider public can grasp a more complex policy.

    The well-branded policies in the blairite manifesto are still touchstones of popular approval, despite their presence as millstones for the administration.

    An ‘ethical foreign policy’ and an ‘integrated transport policy’ may have dissipated into illusion, while the sloganised “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime”, “whiter than white, cleaner than clean”, “education, education, education” do still retain some resonance, at least for the present.

    The greatest challenge it to assert the claim of ownership over each subject.

    As we have seen subsequently, benefit can come from tying your fortunes to popular slogans, but you will rise and fall by their coherence and your consistent adherence to them.

    All the same we shouldn’t underestimate the communicative ability of a lucid and succinct phrase and the particular skill required to craft them.

  • Geoffrey Payne 2nd Aug '07 - 7:47am

    ‘lower taxes, less poverty, more freedom’

    and how about free lunches?

  • My original proposal is a simplistic proposition and there is no suggestion that a simple slogan will win an election on its own. What I would like to see is our party expressing it’s core beliefs in a simple, dumbed down way so that the average uninterested voter goes into the polling booth with some idea about who we are and what we stand for.

    I would also like to see more naked ambition at the top. I think our sensible apoproach to politics is very worthy and it is clearly effective but the question I perenially ask myself is whether it is effectve enough.

    Anyway, my thanks for all your comments, which demonstrate to me that there is fuel for a very lively debate.

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