Some Questions for the Federal Party and Leadership

Who are our target voters that will increase our core vote?

What are the challenges they face? What are their hopes and fears? What are the three biggest, most fundamental, most enduring issues they care about enough to vote or change their vote? How do we know we have got beyond face value of what they say to what really influences what they do, in the voting booth?

What is our clear message to them on each issue, based on our values and expressed through our policies? How is that message different to the other parties? Is the message simple enough to be expressed in a sentence?

Do these messages form a coherent, compelling and positive story? Does that story speak to them? Does it appeal to their hearts as well as their minds? Does that story create a choice for them? Is voting for us the positive decision in that choice?

Is our story reaching them? Is it expressed in terms they understand and ways they appreciate? Is it impacting them in the way we thought it would? How do we know?

How do we know what emerging issues and events to engage with or to avoid distracting from our story? Is the issue in the target voters mind and does it make sense to them? Is it connected with them and with us? Can we show difference to our opponents? Does it change their voting behaviour?

Do we have these answers? If not, what do we need to get them? What do we need in place to continually improve this all?

* New to politics, Freddie joined the party at the beginning of last year. He stood as a paper candidate in the 2019 East Herts District elections.

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25 Comments

  • Michael Sammon 18th May '20 - 1:49pm

    Good questions. We have to build on our own identity to build a new core vote who vote us as a positive choice.

  • Freddie Jewitt 18th May '20 - 8:16pm

    Thanks @Joseph – I’ve drawn from Mark’s Strategy leaflets and also from the Lynton Crosby Campaigning Masterclass video he shared on his blog a few weeks back. While I think he would broadly agree with the set of questions and the approach they endorse, what we don’t have are a comprehensive set of answers. The General Election Review published last week acknowledges the structural gaps we have that frustrates our ability to produce this. I am encouraged to see the job notice for the newly created Director of Strategy, Messaging and Communications role – definitely a step in the right direction.

  • The trouble with concentrating everything on ‘Core Voters’ is that in a First Past the Post electoral system you can’t win just with Core Voters, niche policies get niche votes as the Thornhill Review observes. Also, concentrating exclusively on Core messages can drive away those other voters that you need to win, as with the 3 year Bollocks to Brexit/Revoke campaign.

    Labour made this mistake after their 1979 defeat and and the Benn/Foot Socialist Manifesto in 1983 gave them their worst electoral result since WW2. Until Corbyn repeated the mistake in 2019 and gave them their worst result since the 1930’s. Cameron had to upset a lot of his Party in order to broaden its appeal and gain relative success in 2010 and absolute success in 2015. Hillary Clinton failed to campaign beyond her base, Trump on the other hand won ‘safe’ Blue Collar States that Hillary had taken for granted.

  • Lorenzo Cherin 19th May '20 - 12:41am

    Freddie

    No way ought you, or any member, describe you, or themselves, a person, as a paper candidate. You were and maybe are, better than that.

    These very good points , can be distilled.

    How do we connect?

  • William Wallace 19th May '20 - 11:08am

    On standing as a paper candidate, can I contribute one of my favourite political stories? My daughter’s godmother, a committed and serious Liberal Democrat and Baptist, explained to us how she had ‘unintentionally’ found herself elected as a local councillor. ‘Well, William, I though it a bit of a cheek to have my name on the ballot paper, as I’d only lived there for 3 years, so I thought at least I should go round and introduce myself to everybody…’

  • John Littler 19th May '20 - 11:31am

    Opposing HS2 and suggesting wider rail network development might bring some regional gains in support where there is HS2 blight and does have wider merit. There is no environmental benefit of HS2 given it’s planned huge energy use even after construction and the intended destruction of hundreds of ancient woods. Score of rare, beautiful London Plain trees have already been felled at Euston for HS2. The use of virtual business meetings via the net blows away any small gains HS2’s case might have previously contrived.

    We are entering a post industrial revolution where robots will replace physical work and advanced computing will replace white collar and professional work. Uniquely in history, this combination will even replace new spin off jobs created.

    At the same time, global warming and pressures on resources from population and development make this a uniquely difficult point in all history. If we get it wrong, the world will not be worth living in.

    In general the LibDems need to figure out how to address the coming changes and own them. Labour and the Greens will offer their version and the Tories will bumble along hoping it will never really amount to much. The LibDems need to work out how to address these problems and put it to the public in aways that addresses their concerns and needs in a way they can understand

  • John Littler 19th May '20 - 1:00pm

    Freddie, I wonder if that narrow targeting is as valid as it once was. The pollsters identified a huge amount of churn between votes and intended votes for particular parties. The LibDem polls percentage went up to about 25% last autumn, then fell gradually to 11.5% and now back to 7%-11%. People were joining the LibDems and voting Labour.

    The next programme has to have a very boiled down precis core message available and it has to address real and growing concerns.

    Up to last recession there was more of a case for laissez faire economics but that ship has sailed and if the LibDems struck to that losing case, such as trying to legitimate the gig economy, they are doomed. Even the Tories have adapted to go around it.

  • Paul Holmes 19th May '20 - 1:42pm

    @Freddie Jewit 7.42am.

    Hi Freddie, I’m afraid you mis read my comments. I am not arguing for targetting niche votes, I’m saying that concentrating everything on a supposed Lib Dem Core Vote IS pursuing niche policies which will only attract niche votes (we are currently averaging 7 or 8% in the Opinion Polls once again, just as we did for most of 2010- Spring 2019).

    I have been a member for 37 years and won 4 out of 5 Council elections and 2 out of 3 Parliamentary elections that I stood for. Never did I run on some sort of purist platform designed to appeal only to people who shared my particular priorities such as Constitutional Reform. I would never have been elected even once had I done so.

    In European PR systems an Economic Liberal FDP in Germany or Social Liberal D66 in the Netherlands can occupy a niche and still get elected. That just does not work in UK FPTP elections.

    Neither can I understand that some in the Liberal Democrats want to commit us to concentrating our policies and messaging to suit a tiny number of seats (mainly in London and the South East) with high proportions of educated middle class people. That would mean becoming a truly insular, niche Party with little to say to most of the UK including all those areas we held seats in only 10 years ago. So much for the oft proclaimed need for the Lib Dems to be more diverse!

  • neil sandison 19th May '20 - 5:09pm

    Couldn’t help thinking of Tony Benn adage .Who has the power in the party that led to these awful mistakes and how do we get rid of them ?

  • Peter Hirst 19th May '20 - 5:53pm

    Why do we exist apart from providing a safe haven for disillusioned MPs from other Parties? To me it is to save the planet, defend human rights, decrease inequality and promote global harmony. We need clear message(s) that show these principles distinguish us from all the rest.

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