Telegraph: “Liberal Democrats believe party can oust several Tories”

Yesterday’s Telegraph has a report that the Liberal Democrats believe that they can win or win back some seats currently held by the Tories.

The seats mentioned are Oxford West and Abingdon, Winchester and St Albans. These seats have all selected their candidates, Layla Moran, Jackie Porter and Sandy Walkington. I could also add Richmond Park, where Robin Meltzer is working hard, campaigning against Heathrow expansion with the help of two neighbouring cabinet ministers. In Harrogate we have Helen Flynn and in Newton Abbot and Truro and Falmouth, Richard Younger-Ross and Simon Rix are in place. All these candidates are in place and are working very hard, doing an unprecedented level of on the ground campaigning this far out from an election.

They are being helped by the fact that the Tories are very obviously not the cuddly bunch of teddy bears they pretended to be in 2010, with “Husky Boy” Cameron reportedly denouncing all the “green crap” recently. Their attitude on immigration will also not help retain those voters who switched to them in 2010, thinking that they had changed.

Some Tories are being spooked by this as the Telegraph says:

The Lib Dems’ plans have caused concern among some Tories. More than 20 Conservative MPs attended a private meeting with Mr Cameron last month to express concerns about his shift in tone over the environment.

One Conservative minister said of the Lib Dems: “They are good at running targeted local campaigns. They’ve got huge problems nationally but we shouldn’t write them off – they could well take some of our seats.”

A Liberal Democrats source is quoted as saying:

These are places where some people voted Conservative in 2010 because they liked what David Cameron had to say about things like the environment. Now he’s abandoned the green agenda, there is every reason to think they could come to us.

Cameron’s problem is that he can’t now unsay all the macho, “nasty party” things he said to try to stop the drift to UKIP. He’s made himself a  bed with a core vote mattress that he has to lie in even if he wakes up every morning in agony.

This election is going to be a difficult one for the Liberal Democrats, no doubt about that, but writing us off now would be daft. The party has made a lot of progress this year in getting the infrastructure in place to fight the 2015 election. Tim Gordon, as Chief Executive and his deputy Hilary Stephenson have done  the nuts and bolts on the ground stuff. Ryan Coetzee has been developing the message, our offer to the voters and getting that embedded in all that we do. Paddy Ashdown is being typically fearsome, ensuring the work gets done in our key seats. We’re far too far out to predict anything accurately but our preparations are going in an encouraging direction. We showed what the party could do when we gritted our teeth and got on with it in Eastleigh. We need to do the same in our key seats.

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

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28 Comments

  • “We showed what the party could do when we gritted our teeth and got on with it in Eastleigh. We need to do the same in our key seats.”

    I’d advise you to try not to duplicate that 14-point drop in your share of the vote in your key seats.

  • Winchester is a seat which was taken last time by a slightly dim Tory who has proved to be anti HS2, opposed to wind farms, in favour of coming out of the EU, i.e typical of the UKIP wing of the Conservative Party. That at least means clear orange water between the LibDems and the Tories, but it also means that we need to be quite clear to the electorate about those differences in the hope that the Labour supporters who have previously voted for us will continue to vote tactically and to discourage the Greens from fielding a candidate. Unbelievably we have the first female candidate for a major party in the constituency since the 1950s. One major unknown is whether there will be a Tory/UKIP deal before the election, and if there isn’t whether that would mean a UKIP candidate taking more votes from the Tories than from us – something which clearly did not happen at the County elections in May.

  • A C McGregor 27th Dec '13 - 2:43pm

    It’s not just the South where we can take seats from the Tories. Up in the North there are seats which we can & should take from them – as I intend to prove.

  • Tony – I hope our candidate for Winchester is to the left of Mark Oaten, at least on economic matters!

  • If we play our cards right, we may even be able to save our seats where Labour is the main contender by mopping up more of the Conservative vote. Obviously this is only relevant in a few places, but it could stem our overall losses, nonetheless.

  • Hope the candidates do manage unseat both Nicola Blackwood and Steve Brine.

  • FormerLibDem 27th Dec '13 - 6:29pm

    But to take seats from the Tories you need to attract (or hold) the votes of 2010 Labour supporters. Why should they switch to the Lib Dems to “get the Tories out” in 2015 when the Lib Dems have just spent the last five years “keeping the Tories in”.? Why? Some posters on here just don’t seem to understand that many voters on the centre left (like myself) who were enticed by Nick Clegg in 2010 are determined that we won’t give him our votes a second time simply to decide to throw his weight yet again behind the Tory party. Even if a Tory MP got in as a result, at least I wouldn’t experience again the genuine anger of feeling like my vote had been conned out of me. (I don’t feel “conned” is too strong a word – that’s how I felt. The opinion polls suggest millions of others did likewise). I will probably now get a shower of abuse for saying all this, but the anger I felt in May 2010 is real – and I won’t give Nick Clegg a second opportunity to put me in that position… And there’s also a matter of strategy. If the Lib Dems ARE to hold seats against a Conservative challenger (let alone GAIN seats! Delusion is a terrible thing!) they need to – somehow – attract the support of erstwhile Labour supporters. Can someone explain how Nick Clegg’s increasingly vitriolic attacks on the Labour Party (and only comparatively muted attacks on the Tories) help in that regard?

  • “If we play our cards right, we may even be able to save our seats where Labour is the main contender by mopping up more of the Conservative vote.”

    You have only to look at what’s been happening in local by-elections to see how little chance there is of that happening.

  • Martin Pierce 28th Dec '13 - 7:44am

    I fear that may be a little optimistic in respect of Richmond Park – the demographics have been moving against us there in the last 20 years (we now hold only 5 out of 33 Council seats in the constituency), and Zac Goldsmith is a shrewd populist who has cornered our market on Heathrow and green issues and has a bottomless pit of cash to apply to his political career.

  • Ivan White is either much youger than I or has a shorter memory. The ” most right-wing government in living memory” was the Thatcher government of the 1980s. Say what you like about the coalition, and there are plenty of Lib Dems biting their tongues, things would have been worse without us. As for Labour winning in 2015, I just cannot see Milliband E getting into Downing Street without a coalition. Regardless of his policies he just doesn’t cut it as a PM the way Cameron does enough of the time.

  • Gwyn Williams 28th Dec '13 - 12:07pm

    Montgomery has. selected Jane Dodds. Although the constituency reacted bitterly against Lembit and then was let down by Mick Bates in the Welsh Assembly elections , we have held the seat since 1880 with only one 4 year break. Liberalism is in the soil and the soul as well as focus leaflets.

  • Ivan, this is the most right wing Labour opposition in my extensive lifetime. What I think we have to accept is that politics generally HAS moved to the right, for everyone, even the Greens.

  • Chris Manners 28th Dec '13 - 5:13pm

    ” Regardless of his policies he just doesn’t cut it as a PM the way Cameron does enough of the time.”

    Where’s Cameron excelled then?

  • @Ivan White
    I repeat that this is the most right-wing government in living memory.”

    Repeating it doesn’t make it any more true, does it? It plainly, clearly isn’t.

    We’ve increased the amount of tax paid by the rich. Not very right wing, is it?
    We’ve increased capital gains tax on the rich. Not very right wing.
    We’ve cut taxes for the poor and pushed more money towards educating children from poor families? Are you getting the picture now?

    Ivan, you are just plain old wrong. WRONG. So please don’t bother repeating that whole “most right wing” thing here, because it doesn’t have any valid basis in fact.

  • FormerLibDem 28th Dec '13 - 6:20pm

    RC, I don’t know that I would go as far as to suggest that this is the ‘most right wing govt ever’, but it is, nevertheless, an extremely right wing administration. The demonisation of the poor has been really appalling. I know this is mainly the handiwork of IDS/Grant Schapps et al but the Lib Dems are still rubbing shoulders with the perpetrators round the cabinet table. The trebling of tuition fees, the increasing privatisation of parts of the NHS, the bedroom tax – all these things can be legitimately described as right wing.The constant focus on bogus benefit seekers while cutting top rate icome tax by 10p in the pound for those earning over £150K per year leaves a very unpleasant taste in my mouth. As a Liberal Democrat, it ought to leave an unpleasant taste in your mouth too. By all means trumpet the (very limited) concessions gained by the Lib Dems, but to deny this is a very right wing govt is to deny the evidence of your own eyes. That said, I hope you have a very happy New Year.

  • Let’s pick those Tories off one by one and take back their seats. And don’t forget Labour (currently) seated in Lib Dem seats. The policies are what matter not the sound-bites from the “big parties”. Organize and win back!

  • I am reasonably sure that if the LibDems were not part of this government but it had done all the same things I would not be thinking it was the most right-wing in living memory. Nor is it (another nostrum of the left) the most incompetent government ever. The coalition has done a lot of things that have made me angry, and I do not like the drift of the party under Nick Clegg’s helmsmanship, but it has seen us through three and a half difficult years. I’m reading David Kynaston’s book “Modernity Britain: 1957-1959″: at the equivalent point then in the electoral cycle the feeling was that Labour was”bound to” win the next election, but the economy began to come right, unemployment fell, and people generally started to feel better off and more optimistic, and the Tories won in 1959 with a substantial majority. I know that there are a number of metrics which ‘prove’ that it is most unlikely that the Tories can win in 2015, but remember the adage, “Oppositions don’t win elections, Governments lose them”. I don’t get the sense that the coalition is losing the next election, and Labour certainly isn’t doing anything to contradict that saying. Whether the LibDems will get any of the credit from the electorate for steering the country into calmer economic waters is another matter: somehow I doubt it.

  • So to sum up that long comment, Ivan, you’re saying this is a government that has implemented the Labour manifesto, but with a higher rate of tax on the well-paid and a lower rate of tax on the low-paid?

  • @Ivan White :

    “Electoral Calculus is predicting that the Tories will take 17 seats from the Lib Dems in 2015”

    Nobody with any genuine sense about matters electoral treats ‘Electoral Calculas’ predictions at all seriously.

  • jedibeeftrix 29th Dec '13 - 5:43pm

    @ Ivan – “You’ve reduced the top rate of tax from 50% to 45%, helping the rich.”

    that statement in itself is utterly worthless in determining whether an act is in any meaningful sense attributable to an ideology.

    it is an absolute that suggest that nothing is left wing unless it is part of a perpetual ratchet on taxation towards the nirvana of total taxation.

    you could, using this dubious methodology, consider the 50p rate as a temporary abberation to long term trend of 40p. in which case the revision to 45p could be considered a left wing act!

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