Political Promise

The Tory Assault on the Lib/Con Marginals

In Charlie Edwards on May 1, 2010 at 10:18 am

Up and down the country, there are Liberal Democrat-held seats with slim majorities going into next week’s election. From St Austell to York, one of the key winning elements for the Conservatives need to be to woo these voters. Of the Conservative Party’s 100 most winnable seats, twenty are currently in the hands of the Liberal Democrats. Many of these MPs have reputations as  thoughtful local MPs. The message needs to be clear: A vote for Liberal Democrats is a vote for five more years of Gordon Brown. Nick Clegg’s performances in the televised debates were good, and he capitalised on his equal billing with his two, once much more popular counterparts. Many opponents of the Conservative party are quick to argue “Well look what happened the last time the Tories were in power”. That argument can be turned on its head; “Look what happened the last time we had a hung parliament.”  The year of, in effect, no government resulted in low economic growth, high inflation, creeping unemployment and that uneviable title

What a difference a month makes, the Politics Home predictions at the beginning and end of April

of “Sick man of Europe”. The economic view is resolutely against a hung Parliament. What is the definition of hung Parliament? Where one party has an unworkable majority in the House of Commons. One word, unworkable, speaks volumes.

In Sutton & Cheam, local MP Paul Burstow has been fighting an election contest for the past few months, trying to defend his 3,000-strong majority against Conservative candidate Philippa Stroud, a director of the critically-acclaimed Centre for Social Justice, a ‘compassionate conservative’ think tank. The slimmest Liberal majority is in Romsey & Southampton North, where local Conservative candidate Caroline Nokes needs to overturn a 462-strong majority to deseat current MP Sandra Gidley, a top ranking yet little known Lib Dem politician. In both of the seats, the Conservative candidates have pledged to run ‘fair campaigns’. The constituency has been deluged with leaflets and there have been reports of turf-wars. Not on the scale of the bronx of New York or Chicago, but a few posters and stakes going amiss, from either party. What will be interesting is where the Labour vote will flock to. There are a few thousand Labour voters who will tactically vote Liberal in order to keep the Tories out of office. This does not mean, however that the Tories should neglect these voters and focus on the swinging Liberal vote. Broken promises on the referendums of Europe and university fees are symptoms of both Liberal Democrat and Labour parties. These are the messages that need to be drummed in to the electorate as we enter the final week of the campaign.

The Tories face a stiff resurgence from the long-term Liberal Democrat voice, whose dedication to the “underdog” has come to fruition in a most dramatic form. Clegg should be praised for the part he has played in this, and the state of the election is a far cry from the April 10th front page of The Economist, which depicted the three leaders as Brown “Devil you know”, Cameron “Devil you don’t” and Clegg “Who the Devil?”.

Charlie Edwards


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