Outriding and poll improvements…..
The Economist has a relatively gloomy editorial from a Liberal Democrat perspective which praises ‘the outrider’ Nick Clegg’s impact on politics but essentially says we are condemned to hover around 15-20% in the polls. This follows on news that membership dropped by 8.5% last year although the comments section to that story suggest the news might be better next year.
Back to The Economist; it says:
“Support for the Lib Dems is linked only loosely to rational factors such as their own proposals, the issue of the day (though the unpopularity of the Iraq war helped the party, which had opposed it, do well at the last general election) and even the fortunes of the two main parties. It may be that voters pay so little attention to the Liberal Democrats that their support will almost always float between 15% and 20% of the vote, regardless of events.”
All of which rather suggests that the constant blaze of policy initiative is rather pointless and that we would be better sticking to core messages and hammering them home in a almost monotone fashion. The leader writers of the Economist see our key opportunity to shape politics as the ‘king-makers-in-waiting’ of a hung-parliament. Potentially however this scenario remains the potential undoing of our party as the outcome is bound to dissatisfy a large proportion in one section or another.
The problem with an ‘outrider’ status that wields influence but doesn’t improve your own parties fortunes in the polls is that the reality of the latter is eventually bound to eventually catch-up with and diminish the former. Maybe increased attention during an election period will help but that can by no means be taken as a given especially as the elections focus has yet to be determined.