Towards the General Election in 2015: Two ways Labour and Conservatives are gearing up

polling station -  Some rights reserved by Simon Clayson Two very different reports this weekend about how Labour and the Conservatives are preparing for the General Election.

First of all, an Observer report on how the Tories are raising money to spend in their target seats:

Roll up, roll up, come and jump on the 2015 general election bandwagon. It helps if you are rich and like the Tories, but it matters little whether you were born in Britain or insist on keeping your donation private. There are people waiting at glitzy fundraising dinners right now to take your cash and distribute it with laser-guided precision to the candidates that most desperately need it – those fighting to win the tightest constituencies in the land.

An analysis produced for the Observer by the Bureau of Investigative Journalism reveals that hundreds of thousands of pounds have been funnelled to Tory candidates ahead of next year’s election, one that pollsters suggest may produce the tightest result in living memory.

With Labour having to rely largely on the unions for funding, the Tories appear much more fleet-footed and energetic in their pursuit of donations. The bureau’s analysis shows that leading Tory hopefuls are powering ahead in terms of the sums being raised – much of it via obscure clubs and organisations legitimately used to mask the identity of donors.

That money is being piled into key Liberal Democrat/Conservative marginals. It’s just as well, then, that Liberal Democrat fundraising and campaigning in these seats has been robust. We can always do with ore, though, so if you are annoyed by Tories splashing the cash, you can donate to the Liberal Democrats here.

That cute baby

You know that the opposition are on to a good thing when you hear Liberal Democrat campaigners saying “I wish we’d thought of that.”

Our social media timelines have been full of a very cute baby as our friends reveal their “NHS baby number” ahead of the NHS’s birthday on 5th July.  In fact, it’s all about a very social media friendly attempt by the Labour Party to get their hands on information about you. It was one of the oldest tricks in the book, using a baby to get a message across. Not only did they explicitly claim credit for the NHS (while not mentioning that it was the Liberal, William Beveridge who came up with the idea), but, because you had to put in your postcode, email address and date of birth to get what was, the small print admitted, a vague approximation of your place in the order, they will have accumulated shedloads of data.

Let’s think about it. If you did it, they have the seat you live in, how old you are and your email address so they can send you age and seat specific stuff.

I hope that they think to use it to send 16 an 17 year olds decent pro-UK messages for the Scottish referendum.

This was a clever idea – but with minds like Austin Rathe and Steve Jolly, who came up with that genius text in the middle of the Nick v Nigel debates, we’re bound to have a few clever ideas of our own.

Survival courses for MPs

And what have the Liberal Democrats been doing recently? Training is, as ever, an important part of election preparations. The Daily Mail’s account of our Wyboston training events for key seats is hilariously inaccurate. It’s not like it was Nick Clegg’s idea. The party’s been doing this sort of thing for at least 20 years and we know that people who follow the ALDC plan and go to their Kickstart events are more likely to win local government seats. I have particularly fond memories of one pre-2005 election training session in Dunfermline held on Jo Swinson’s 25th birthday.

Nick certainly didn’t demand attendance from anybody – that would have come from Liberal Democrats HQ. I can’t deny the existence of flip charts or that they were in Bedfordshire, but I also know that many people found it extremely useful. While the odd MP might have done a bit of whinging, their campaign teams will have learned some invaluable stuff not just from the official trainers but from what others were doing.

Two interesting things about the article though was that it named Norman Lamb and Steve Webb as the ministers who were pushing for a change of plan on an EU referendum.  It also carries a Tory (senior figure in No 10) suggesting that they can’t wait to get rid of Clegg and the pesky Liberal Democrats. That couldn’t be because we’re stopping them having


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

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  • David Boothroyd 7th Jul '14 - 3:10pm

    Sorry, it is just not true that Beveridge came up with the idea of the NHS. Beveridge studied social insurance, not health care. His report says nothing about healthcare beyond the fact that he assumed there would be a universal health service. And Beveridge only joined the Liberal Party after his report was published anyway.

    The NHS as we actually know it was genuinely thought up by Bevan. National Archives file CAB/129/3/5 is the real origin of the NHS.

  • Peter Watson 7th Jul '14 - 5:32pm

    “The bureau’s analysis shows that leading Tory hopefuls are powering ahead in terms of the sums being raised – much of it via obscure clubs and organisations legitimately used to mask the identity of donors.”
    Depressingly, Lib Dems in government did little (nothing?) to restrict these sorts of fundraising activities but joined in with the Tories to clamp down on trade unions and charities. Yes, I know there are 57 Lib Dem MPs vs. 300 Conservative MPs, but that is not an excuse for cheerleading the Tory policies that come out of the Coalition.

  • Liberal Neil 7th Jul '14 - 5:55pm

    I think it is silly for any one party to claim credit for the NHS. Support for the idea of universal basic health provision had been building over quite a long period of time. Lloyd George’s government had commissioned reports about it and the coalition government during the war had looked at it too. Beveridge ‘s report certainly added backing to the idea. Clearly it was Bevan who eventually drove the legislation through.

  • paul barker 7th Jul '14 - 7:22pm

    Good to see 2 Polls putting us at 9% & 11% tonight. However both Polls contain some very odd figures, 27% for The Tories & 14% for Others for example. I hope we are not going from Polls distorted by the May Elections to the effects of the “Silly Season”. Theres a 3rd Poll tonight, from Yougov.

  • Paul in Wokingham 7th Jul '14 - 8:53pm

    @Neil – purely by chance we are on holiday in North Wales at the moment and went to the Lloyd George museum in Criccieth yesterday. I was struck by three things: first, Lloyd George’s principled opposition to the Boer War which caused him to have to escape a jingoistic mob in Manchester by dressing as a policeman. Secondly his engaging personality as exemplified in the film of the warm and witty speech he made to his local Liberal Party on the occasion of his 50th wedding anniversary. And thirdly his support for radical politics throughout his career, as exemplified by the first legal case he fought to allow a nonconformist widower to bury his late wife where he wished.

    Radical, with strong political principles and an ability to engage with people. Everything a Liberal leader needs to be.

  • While we are on the topic of Lloyd George, his life, death, and Criceth / Llanystumdwy, we visited the museum and his tomb some years ago, and were very impressed. Very moving. Coincidentally, we were on a visit to our twinning friends in Brittany a few months ago, and watched a documentary on the life of Clemenceau while we were there. He died (I think) in 1929, and there was film of his funeral, and where he was buried. The wooded area, and the mausoleum / tomb was very reminiscent of LG’s. Lloyd George was seen attending the funeral, and we wondered whether he had been influenced by that to wish something similar for his own final resting place.

  • Tony Greaves 9th Jul '14 - 5:24pm

    “Good to see 2 Polls putting us at 9% & 11% tonight.”

    This must be the most extraordinary (and downright silly) comment made here for some time!

    Tony Greaves

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