Left Out Liberal

A left-wing/liberal look at the UK's General Election of 2005.

Wednesday, April 06, 2005

The Mountain

It's perhaps unsurprising that everyone, including myself and even the traditional news media have jumped on the blogging bandwagon for the election. The Guardian's Election 2005 blog will be a worthy read, but yesterday they seemed to be posting to it every half an hour. That's one way to get blogger burnout and to turn away the readers!

The BBC has also let loose its pretty impressive election site, and I couldn't resist playing with the swingometers. And their results surprised me...

Only yesterday I realised how high the threshold is for the Lib Dems to make any progress this election. Serious swings to them of 5-10% will only herald a handful of seats. Worse is the fact that most of them are from the Tories, which either means that they have to convince Tory voters to switch to them - not likely given the Lib Dems progressive programme - or, and this is probably the only option, to get even more Labour voters to tactically vote for them. This is more likely, but it's going to require extreme targeting of certain vital constituencies and a lot of effort to educate the local populace that they live in such a vital marginal.

The Lib Dems have no choice but to run a highly specialised campaign. They've got to forget wooing the Tory voters and instead concentrate on keeping their existing support - which is fragile given that a lot of existing voters are disaffected Conservatives in seats like Southport - and then build on stealing as many Labour voters as possible in a tactical way. It will not help anyone if they pile up the votes by getting protest votes in Labour strongholds, because the majorities are just too high to overturn.

It's very possible the Lib Dems stagnate this election, despite the general rise in support. They're going to need a significant vote-winning moment in the campaign, and this morning's news that Paul Marsden has defected back to Labour after defecting to the Lib Dems in 2001 is not going to help at all.

Are the wheels coming off already? It's not even worth considering the scale of the mountain the Tories have to climb even just to get a minority administration.

The results of this election could be surprising in that little will change, while everyone is expecting there to be a lot up for grabs. It would be cruel irony if the surprise this time is that Blair is elected with another landslide against low expectations and a country with little trust in him.


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