Some have said – mostly Lib Dems – that I’ve been a bit harsh on the party Peter Bone likes to describe as the “yellow peril”. That in the midst of #libdemfightback and the retaking of local seats, I’ve refused to be moved in regards to the rebirth of Lib Demery post-2015. The latest example of this being my prediction of the Lib Dems ending up with between 15 and 20 seats after June 8th, in the face of predictions from Lib Dem circles of double digit Tory-majority-ending proportions.
I preface with all that to remind you that I haven’t been liberal in my praise of the Liberal Democrats for some time, and so bear that in mind with what I’m about to say. The Lib Dems are off to a great start in this campaign and they’ve done most things right. Farron’s wobble on the “homosexuality is a sin” thing is the one unforgivable misstep – but again, the only one. Let’s list the best of it.
1. Ruling out coalition of any kind
While this seems blatantly obvious in retrospect, all great political moves inevitably do. Farron saying that the Lib Dems won’t go into coalition with either Labour or the Tories no matter what both cuts down May’s “coalition of chaos” line significantly while allowing Tory-Lib floating voters to worry a lot less about voting Lib Dem equalling PM Corbyn, all while allowing some centre-left voters to feel that voting Lib Dem does not equal an endorsement of a revived Lib-Con government. Great move – whomever thought it up deserves massive credit. Particularly given a Tory majority really is inevitable, so there is nothing of value lost anyhow.
2. Targeting north London Corbynista seats
I have no idea how gettable any of these seats actually are – I suspect none of them are, remotely – but announcing that the Lib Dems are targeting Corbyn’s, Abbott’s and Thornberry’s seats is another masterstroke. I’ve always thought that post-Article 50 these constituencies were at least worth looking at in a pragmatic sense – and even if there is no way in hell that they will actually go LD, targeting them sends a great signal when related back to the central campaign message around Brexit. To be honest, I didn’t think the Lib Dem campaign team would have the cojones to go for it – well done to them for proving me wrong on that front.
3. Targeting Vauxhall
Again, who knows how winnable this seat actually is for the LDs (worth reminding ourselves that Hoey is sitting on a massive majority), but again, this sends out all the right signals. And if the Lib Dems do win it, just this seat alone backs up the whole of the campaign’s thrust.
4. The press team being excellent
The LD press team already gets a lot of kudos in Westminster, and rightly so. Okay, partially it’s down to a reflection of how tortuously terrible the Labour press set up is at the moment, but nonetheless, it still deserves a lot of credit. On everything that is coming out, the Lib Dem press team gets its messages out very quickly – all while Labour twist in the wind at every opportunity.
For now, I’ll be sticking with my 15-20 seats prediction. But if the LDs can turn this very good start into an ongoing brilliant campaign, and the London Labour seats that are being targeted are actually weaker than anyone thinks, that could go up by 10 or even 15. Keep it up, chaps.