Saturday, 23 May 2015
Um. I really think, with hindsight, we would change our General Election campaign. Wouldn't we?
While I think Ryan Coetzee's analysis of the Lib Dems #GE2015 campaign is often right, one paragraph stands out for me
"Should we have run the campaign differently, given what we knew? I don’t think so. We correctly identified the threats facing us on each front, and did our best to counter them. We made a coherent, liberal case to the voters, offering both a strong economy and a fair society. There are of course improvements that could have been made to the design and execution of the campaign, as there always are, but in retrospect it is difficult to imagine a different campaign producing a significantly better result"
Now of course its easy to be clever after the event. But it seems, frankly bizarre, that Ryan doesn't think we should have done anything differently. It's those 4 words. "I don't think so".
It seems self evident to me that, given the results, OF COURSE we should have run the campaign differently.
I happily accept that, given the evidence available, decisions were taken in good faith that seemed completely sensible at the time. But those decisions were evidently wrong. And we should have taken different action.
Let me give you one facile example. Ryan correctly (in my view) observes that we fought the campaign on 3 different fronts - anti SNP, anti, Labour, anti Tory. And adopted 3 separate strategies as a result.
To any party with frankly limited resources, that's madness. Remember, the Tories largely didn't do that - even with their huge resources. They concentrated on one core strategy in the campaign - emphasising the bogeyman of a Labour SNP coalition. They knew this would hurt the SNP, Labour and us. It wouldn't especially hurt UKIP - but they didn't let that get in the way.
Many will no doubt say we had no choice - am I saying I would have abandoned 2/3 of our sitting MPs to adopt a strategy that would save 1/3? Difficult, I agree.
But if we had done we would now have more like 18 0r 19 MPs than 8.
So to suggest our strategy was the best it could possibly be and with the benefit of hindsight we would still have done the same thing, is, frankly, nuts.
Or of course we could have adopted Plan B. We joined in with scaremongering about the SNP, basically ruling out any perceived possibility of a coalition with Labour in voters minds as a result.
Supposing we'd done the opposite? Said we would work with the SNP? Not on nationalism of course - but on general domestic policy? Wouldn't many soft SNP voters have come back to us in Scotland? Wouldn't soft Labour have come back to us in England and Wales?
I don't know they would. But I'm reasonably sure our election results wouldn't have been any worse
So to answer the question Ryan posed. "Should we have run the campaign differently, given what we knew?" I'm afraid given where we ended up - it's a big YES from me.
Richard Morris at 19:06