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Lib Dem Ad Campaign: Amateur Hour

By Editor
October 4th, 2012 at 9:00 am | 3 Comments | Posted in Labour, Liberal Democrats

We are joining the ranks of Lib demmers looking at the new ads being run by party HQ and saying er, No.

The most recent ad looks, as Digital Politco puts it, like “someone photoshopped it when they were bored for 5 minutes”.

We really thought we heard Nick tell us last week that were the party of the centre ground. Yet here we are, but a few days later, shouting a leftwing banker bashing message for all we are worth. We are not even sure that it is that easy to recognise Ed Miliband beneath that powered wig hat and ears. (And we are sure he reminds us of some character from a BBC period drama but can’t quite put our finger on it.)

And though you might think us picky we are not even sure you can count a poodle (if that is indeed what it is supposed to be) as a lapdog, surely it has to be a minature poodle to be a lapdog? All in all  a pretty lame effort.

It also curiously, seems to have little to do with the ad van running around Labour conference right now (photo from Liberal England blog spot). Well Ok , its bashing Labour, its from the Lib Dems and it has the fairertax website url on it.. but really does that constitute a coordinated campaign?

Its best been described by a former LV blogger with a flare for hitting the nail on the head :

“It’s a Focus leaflet graphic on a billboard, with no clear or memorable message, targeting a group unlikely to switch to the Liberal Democrats and saying nothing of any interest to other groups, with the possible exception of tax geeks who like bar charts” .

(We are also not entirely sure that the numbers  are correct – though we hope we can at least rely on Campaigns to get that bit right , so we bow to their expertise on this one.)

So what is going on? Last week at conference Jeremy Browne articulated what many of us who have worked in marketing or communications have been saying for a while – we should not define ourselves by the Conservatives or Labour, but define ourselves in our own terms. – as liberals Sadly that message seems not to have reached whoever is in charge of our media strategy.

We are not entirely convinced that an ad van, presumably targeting the (most hardened of) Labour activists attending conference is necessarily a good spend of our cash. Unless of course it is a cunning plan to excite conference attendees to push Labour further to the left in bid to squeeze out a bit of space in that fabled “centre ground”.

Either way with precious little money to spend, the party needs to get much better at these “attack” ads or, better still, abandon ya boo politics, pull our finger out and get the growth going. When we see some real green shoots we will have something to shout about, until then we are probably best saying nothing – especially if this is the best we can come up with. Unfortunately in the interests of “fairness” we have a nasty feeling that we might just see something equally cringe-making ad “sticking it to the Tories” at Conservative conference next week. More humiliation. Oh joy.

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Am I wrong to laugh at Labour’s woes?

By Angela Harbutt
September 27th, 2011 at 7:42 pm | No Comments | Posted in Labour, Uncategorized

Yes probably. But I could not help but hoot when Ed Miliband went off air for a while during his speech… Trust Labour with the economy ?.. You can’t even trust them to get their “once a year- showcase to nation”  broadcast right. Oh dear…

There is a mischeavous part of me that wonders if his “advisors” did not pull the plug on him..

Then came the sad indictment of the whole Labour party conference…Rather than spend hours with woeful Labourites arguing (still) that Ed Balls should not have apologised for Labour mistakes – or analysis and reactions to their glorious leaders speech- both BBC News Channel and Sky News decided that showing hours of live footage from Michael Jackson’s doctors trial was more interesting!

Hmmm..  Apparently… coverage of deadpan attorney in a dry courtroom addressing question of whether doctor killed pop star or not much more interesting than coverage of dull Labourites in dull conference hall addressing question of whether leader had killed party or not.

I seem to recall a certain Labour phrase about it being a good day to bury bad news. But NO! They surely didn’t deliberately schedule their hapless leaders speech to end just before the trial was due to go live… just in case?

Then again….

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Ed Miliband’s tuition fees policy would favour people on £72k pa

By Julian Harris
September 27th, 2011 at 6:30 am | No Comments | Posted in education, Government, Labour

Liberal think tank Centre Forum has been busy crunching some numbers, and their findings don’t make happy reading for Labour’s seemingly-doomed leader.

Ed Miliband has made a big socalist play of his alleged plans to force nasty bankers to subsidise cheaper degrees for the bright teenage children of  hard-working families.

Yet through its complexities, Miliband’s plan would typically benefit “graduates in their fifties earning £72,500″.

The study says: “Virtually no one in the bottom half of the earnings distribution, and virtually no one under the age of 35, will stand to gain from Labour’s plan.”

The policy of lumping further taxes on the financial sector “will be harmful during a period of economic recovery”.

It also adds: “Given the way that the student loan system works, the majority of the gains are illusory – what government gives on one hand, it takes back on the other.”

Indeed. Taking with one hand to give back (less) with the other. Nice to know someone else has noticed that.

Anyway, it looks like Our Vince is happy with the report:

“I would urge anyone attracted to Labour’s proposals to read this very informative analysis,” Vince said. “It makes clear that the policy only benefits wealthier, older graduates, and it exposes Labour’s claim that they want to help young people as completely false.”

You can read the report BY CLICKING HERE .

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The future of Liberal Democrat thinking

By Timothy Cox
October 28th, 2010 at 4:04 pm | 1 Comment | Posted in UK Politics

Last night I had the pleasure of speaking at the Institute for Government, on behalf of Liberal Vision, on “The future of Liberal Democrat thinking.” Chaired by Lord Adonis (boo… hiss!), the other panellists included Lord Clement-Jones, Neil Sherlock and Julian Astle from Centre Forum.

The IfG have provided a comprehensive summary of the discussion here (and, for those of you who are really bored, a full podcast here!) but I thought I’d briefly add my thoughts on some of the issues raised:

Lord Clement-Jones lauded our exulted one, rightly describing Clegg’s decision to join the coalition as “bold” and referring back to the writings of Jo Grimond to demonstrate that he is “entirely in line with the antecedents in the party”. I was less convinced by his referral to The Spirit Level (Wilkinson and Pickett) when summarising key liberal texts from which to set the agenda for future liberal thinking. Really?!

Neil Sherlock, spoke well on the forthcoming priorities for the LDs: ensuring that the government is successful, delivering LD policies and demonstrating that coalition politics worked. All valid points, from a man who certainly knows a thing or two about the higher echelons of the party.

Julian Astle, Exec Director at the liberal (with a small “l”) think tank Centre Forum, was excellent in his defence of liberal values and in addressing the issues at the core of modern liberal thinking. His description of the “big society” as having a liberal core was particularly refreshing: it’s good to see a liberal sticking up for a liberal thesis irrespective of which party it emanated from.

institute-for-government

Which brings us on to my point, which was that the LDs must be careful not to warp their agenda in order to distinguish themselves from the Conservatives. Liberal (small l) and conservative ideology is as distinct today as it was at the turn of the 20th century- when the Labour Representation Committee only held 2 seats (arh… for the good ole days!). Attempting to force the distinction, by compromising our core agenda for the benefit of the hard left, risks playing into the hands of our opponents at the ballot box- be they red, blue, green or simply nuts.

Let’s get on with bringing a truly liberal agenda to this government, show that coalition governance works for the people and stop worrying about what disaffected Labour voters think of the LDs in government.

NOTE: Some excellent questions from the floor followed; my favourite of which can be summarised as “what would the LD’s have done differently had they been in power in 1997”. Well not THIS for a starters. Thanks very much for your thirteen year flirtation with “social-democracy”, but I think we’ve all had quite enough now!

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Unions choose new Labour Leader

By Andy Mayer
September 25th, 2010 at 5:53 pm | 3 Comments | Posted in UK Politics

Springtime for liberal democracy and winter for Labour… as the direction of the official opposition is determined by Trade Union votes. In substance the MPs (53%) and Members (54%) showed a strong preference for David Miliband, but were out voted by Ed Miliband landslide (60%) in the Union section, each section accounting for a third of the final result.

Those most closely involved in fighting and winning elections for Labour have been squished by those most closely involved in making them unelectable. Under Gordon Brown, Unions bought the party machine covering over 70% of their income. After Brown they’ve captured the Leader’s office, potentially reversing all the gains made by Tony Blair in modernising his party. Labour’s narrative is now extremely vulnerable to the strikes promised in response to public sector cuts. The new Leader looks compromised before he’s even started. Worse Labour have just voted for the candidate most closely associated with support for the calamitous economic record of the previous Leader.

The result could not have been much closer (1.3%), in some respects mimicking the Liberal Democrat Huhne / Clegg race in 2007. The main difference though is the populist candidate tacking to the left beat the pragmatic candidate tacking to the centre.

This result will change both the Liberal Democrats as well as Labour. Suddenly New Labour are out, and looking at a very long period both in Opposition and in opposition to their party. The Liberal Democrats and Conservatives are going to start looking like attractive alternatives.

On the left of the Liberal Democrats siren calls to rebuild a progressive socially liberal Labour party with Ed Miliband uniting the lost tribes of anti-Conservatism is going to be a very tempting prospect. It will seem even more attractive if Labour can convince them that the fabric of the coalition government is so fragile that it might not last five years, let alone survive the next election. They are wrong in that regard, the current public narrative against cuts is one of a minority of shrill voices not a shift in opinion against tough action.

For Nick Clegg then he has just been gifted an historic opportunity to push Labour in the direction they’ve voted to go, and send them a tribute of oppositionalist talent into the bargain. He can hold the genuinely centre-left liberal vote by highlighting Union control of Labour, and pitching to the aspirational working family voters who don’t like their wages being spent on the client state. He can divide public sector workers between the genuinely talented and those filling in forms. He can appeal to centre and centre-right liberals by showing his opposition to Labour’s extremism. His first target should be seek a high profile New Labour defection.

None of this is guaranteed. Ed Miliband may prove as pragmatic in position as he was populist in securing it. Like Clegg and Ashdown his media presence and rapport may improve with time (he currently sounds stilted and uses too many platitudes). He may benefit from events and splits in the Coalition that cannot be predicted. New Labour may find comfort in a significant role for David and some kind of deal over other positions that keeps their hopes alive.

Labour is also factionally far more complex than the Blair-Brown years would suggest. The Unions are not united, the members in the main are as locally focused as Liberal Democrat activists and equally disinterested in ideology. The unity of the party in general has survived far more dramatic changes of direction than one brother beating another for the top job. They have come back from far more extreme leadership and domination by their left than this.

These are though interesting times… who will capture the political opportunities they present… only time will tell. Liberal Democrat prospects for the next election though look much brighter.

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