The Telegraph puts its own predictable spin on Liberal Democrat election strategy

It always amuses me how the newspapers report  what is going on inside the Liberal Democrat campaign machine. I would strongly recommend that you read anything published on the pages of newspapers who hate us with a very large pinch of salt.

A few weeks ago the Mirror painted this picture of “MPs being forced to undergo dragon’s den style grillings” to secure campaign resources. This is kind of right, except it’s a process which has been going on for most of this Parliament and in fact any seat was welcome to apply to be part of the strategic seats programme. I was part of the Dragon’s Den panel in Scotland and I was really heartened to see how the process worked and how campaigning activity in all our seats improved as a result.

Now the Telegraph, which hates us as much as the Mirror if not more, screams “Lib Dems throw weak MPs to the wolves”. There are undoubtedly some people who would far rather be thrown to an actual pack of wolves than face Paddy in full Father Jack mode but the sense I get is that seats which a year ago were thought to be lost are actually being seen as seriously in play. This is down to the massive effort that has been put in on the ground by our highly motivated campaign teams. The party has always targeted its relatively scant resources carefully to put most effort in where the evidence tells us we can win. The only difference between this campaign and previous is that there are fewer seats we are seriously targeting to gain. Oxford West and Abingdon and Watford, where Layla Moran and Dorothy Thornhill respectively are standing, are two prominent examples of that sort of seat.

My reading of the situation at the moment is that heads are being held very high and that there is a renewed sense of optimism about our prospects in seats that we’d all assumed were lost a year ago.

The Telegraph also looks at how Nick Clegg will be portrayed in the campaign.

Of all the strategic decisions facing Clegg’s inner circle, how to deploy Clegg himself has proved one of the toughest. “We’re not daft,” said one aide, “we know there’s a Nick Clegg issue on the doorstep.”

In the end they have chosen to confront it directly. Clegg will, in the words of one of his MPs, be asked to “walk through the flames”. Rather than shield him, his exposure to the media and voters will deliberately be increased when the main campaign begins.

Partly this is because private Lib Dem polling has some evidence Clegg remains an asset among what party insiders call “our market”. Partly it’s to harness what even Clegg’s most bitter critics acknowledge is his impressive resilience.

It’s not like he’s been hidden up until now. You can’t really hide someone who does a half hour radio show taking calls from members of the public  every week or who appears on shows like the Last Leg and gets the entire country talking about him.

When we are seeing that policies with his fingerprints all over them are seriously improving people’s lives, like the news we had about the pupil premium yesterday, it is right that he should be front and centre of our campaign. When we came into government and found that the country’s coat pocket contained a couple of bits of string and some polo mints with fluff on them, he made sure that what little we had was put into helping those from disadvantaged and vulnerable backgrounds. We should be very proud of that.

Having said that, there is much more to do to tackle poverty and inequality. Those things don’t matter to the Tories and Labour failed miserably in the 13 years they were in power. They do matter to Liberal Democrats and we have a lot to show from our first term in government. The job is far from complete, though. That should motivate us to get out there and fight the campaign of our lives. The careful work of Paddy and the Wheelhouse which, to my particular satisfaction has had a lot of influence from ALDC, has built the best campaign machine we could have to take us into the fight of our lives.

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

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • If the 50 seat targeting story is right, bit surprised but pleased to hear Lib Dems leafleting parliamentary wise in Devon West.

  • Boards already going up in OXWAB

  • Interesting… certain papers being within 180 degrees of LibDem reality sounds familiar… so… When they predict that we will loose seats it means the opposite? … that would be good for the UK…

  • Tony Dawson 24th Mar '15 - 5:49pm

    Interestingly, the central Tory Party is pretty much abandoning certain seats. I could name one that has hardly seen any Tory literature in the past three months. Let’s face it, the Tories’ priority in England will be to try to hold on to as many of the seats they have, knowing that they will lose at least some to the Labour Party and perhaps the odd one or two to the Lib Dems and/or UKIP.

  • I can only implore ANY activist who has a spare hour (half an hour) to come and visit ( or telephone canvas) for Lynne Featherstone in north London …. it really could make the difference 🙂 for a most worthy MP to see back in Parliament after May 🙂

  • Philip Thomas 25th Mar '15 - 8:38am

    Even on the current poll ratings we are widely predicted to lose several seats to the Tories- look at the predicted map on Election forecast and the Southwest is almost entirely blue. Moreover, I think Tory support is a) going to rise during the campaign proper and b) underestimated by current polling data (silent Tories). This could easily be 1992 all over again.
    Hence we should be fighting as hard as possible in Tory-facing seats now.

    Of course, I would say that. The thing I most fear is a Tory majority. But that doesn’t mean I’m wrong.

  • Julian Gibb 25th Mar '15 - 8:56am

    The Sun just changes the headline to suit regional bias.
    Who controls the MSM?

  • Jane Ann Liston 25th Mar '15 - 9:24am

    I was recently contacted by a potential voter, generally disillusioned but wondering for whom he should vote. My reply included a link to Nick’s speech at Liverpool. Voter was very impressed, saying people should listen to what he says rather than simply writing him off. (He also liked Willie, by the way.)

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