The received wisdom in campaigning for one of the two big parties is that if you ignore the Lib Dems, you reinforce the impression that they are not electorally significant. So traditionally, Labour and Tories attack each other’s record and try to score points off one another. So I was particularly gratified last night when the Tory PPB took the time to attack the Lib Dems. Tories know that there is a head of steam for those who would protest against Blair, but by voting Lib Dem it won’t save the Tories from oblivion. They are sufficiently worried by this to start attacking us publicly. Well, as they say, ‘Bring it on!’Meanwhile, back in the Blair camp, Labour are still pushing the line of ‘voting Lib Dem will let Howard in via the back door’. This has been comprehensively, mathematically debunked by many – but you don’t have to take my word for it. Visit the BBC website and spend an idle half-hour playing with the ‘Swingometer’. There is no swing to the Lib Dems of any size at all that delivers a victory for Howard. The only swing that delivers a Tory government is a sizeable swing to the Tories – and that’s just not going to happen.
One thing I am looking forward to is what takes place after the election. The Tories cannot survive another defeat in their present form. It is becoming increasingly clear that moving to the right and becoming more nasty has got them absolutely nowhere. They are flatlining in the polls. Their only hope, as I have said before, is a more moderate approach – but where have the moderate Tories gone? Is there a ‘Gang of Four’ or however many to break away a la SDP? It’s clear that 8 years in the wilderness has taught them nothing at all.
But it’s becoming increasingly clear that the voices of dissent in ‘Not Labour’ are only waiting until after May 5th to be heard. (So principled are they that saving their own seats comes first!). But they will start to make a noise after the election. Brian Sedgemore may be just the tip of the iceberg.