Time to move on……
Poltical Betting has a piece openly speculating on whether we will see any more shocking Liberal Democrat by-election victories. This is, of course, relevant to the debate that has been happening within the blogsphere around ‘Rennardism’ and so on and such forth.
Firstly, I don’t buy into the view that it is the amount of literature that is at fault; it is more the mentality that underlies the carpet-bombing which unquestionably is akin to that of a guerrilla army. We swoop in and expect the electorate, groaning under several forests worth of leaflets, to bow to our superior policies and duly elect us. Of course, they do nothing of the kind and besides how many guerrilla armies have you known to go on and win sweeping majorities in a representative legislature.
Part of the reason this simply doesn’t work is pointed out in the Political Betting piece;
“With more than sixty MP’s, the Lib Dems are now part of the Westminster establishment. They’ve run councils across the country and partaken in government in Scotland and Wales: they’re no longer outsiders. On the other hand, UKIP, the Greens and the BNP are. When there’s an anti-politician mood, that matters.”
So, us behaving like the ‘groovy’ anti-politics party of choice is clearly nonsensical. We aren’t and shouldn’t feel we are; if we continue to behave this way then smaller parties will continue to shave off our vote and in some cases eclipse us. Another good point is made in the article;
“Much of the reason for that is historic: the Labour movement dominated many aspects of people’s lives in some areas in a way the Tories (and Liberals) never could in their own strongholds: from where people worked via the union (which was often actually or effectively a closed shop), to where they lived via Labour-run council housing, to where they shopped, run by the co-operative, to where they socialised, in the working men’s clubs.”
The only way to break through in places like this is to break into these networks and that requires time and the building of strong local party organisations. This is the only way; start with the 1’s and 2’s and move upwards. Swooping in on the battle bus won’t cut any ice in these kind of areas so shocking by-election wins become rather unlikely. We are in real trouble and it is all to easy to see how come 2010 we will shed seats in the Conservative Shires and because we lack the culture and tactics and narrative take none of our key seat targets.
Forget leaflet fatigue, forget absurd squeeze messages which bear no relation to reality, change the culture and ethos that underpins campaigning and we might just have a serious chance of moving into second place ahead of Labour and be the real opposition to the next Conservative government.