Thoughts on politics and life from a liberal perspective

Thursday, 2 April 2015

This is a strange way for Labour to try and woo Lib Dem voters

Ever since the formation of the coalition, Lib Dem voters have been abandoning the party and in a lot of cases going to Labour.

I have always found this a little surprising given all the things that Labour did while in power but if a week is a long time in politics then 5 years is a lifetime and memories of course fade.

But if you are trying to woo voters who at the most recent general election voted for a liberal party, why on earth, 5 weeks out from polling day would you release this leaflet?
The Labour leaflet attacking the Lib Dems on crime.

I am particularly referring to the final bullet point on the "Lib Dems Have" side:

"And they would end prison sentences for drug posession - even for the hardest drugs like heroin and crack".

Now to me this just seems like a cynical attempt at vote grabbing. I suspect even those who drafted this leaflet know the current legal regime around drugs is self-defeating and damages the most vulnerable in society. But I think campaigning in this way is actually very misguided if you think about it.

Labour's best shot at being the largest party in parliament is by holding onto (and getting more of) those people who voted Lib Dem last time. Whatever else the Lib Dems have done, as a party their drugs policy is very clear. Indeed it is one of the most distinct "clear yellow water" issues between the Lib Dems and the two main parties. And many Lib Dems really, really like that policy. I know from personal experience having been one for several years. In all my discussions when I was a member on this subject (and that is a lot) I can count on one hand the number of Lib Dems I met who thought the current laws on drugs are right to stick with. This even applied to the older generations of Lib Dems in my experience.

So if anything, campaigning like this is likely to push wavering former Lib Dem voters back towards the yellows. Or at the very least make them hesitate when deciding whether to put their cross next to Labour. And let's not forget there are other options out there for voters too. The Greens also have a very progressive drugs policy and I am sure this will have pushed some who were going to vote Labour towards them too.

Labour should probably be grateful that this leaflet and the reaction to it in the media has largely been confined to online comment and articles in The Independent and The Guardian. Because the wider coverage this gets, the more likely I think it is to actually cost Labour votes.

They have fallen back on what they think is a "safe" issue to campaign on when in actual fact it is anything but for them given the current political situation.

1 comment:

Simon Fawthrop said...

Labour are appealing to their conservative working class voters, a constituency they tend to forget.