Next May’s local elections will see gains for the Greens and the end of the Lib Dems

“I’m not a Tory” pleaded Nick Clegg  following an onslaught on Mumsnet.  He claims that the Lib Dems and the Tories are “as distinct as we’ve always been”.

Well, Mr Clegg, if it waddles like a duck and quacks like a duck, it must be a ….. Lib Dem!  The enthusiasm with which Clegg, David Laws, Danny Alexander et al have embraced the Tory cuts agenda (in spite of pre election statements) makes it hard to differentiate between the Lib Dems and the Tories.

All this is great news for Labour and the Greens.  Both parties should pick up votes from the discredited Lib Dems locally.  They never were much to rite home about, and the defeat of their last two councillors will be one of the high points of the local elections next May. 

So who will benefit most? Probably the Greens.  If the Greens are serious about becoming the largest party next May, the must pick up both Brunswick seats from the Lib Dems. Labour can hope to pick up votes from traditionally anti-Tory Lib Dem who have found the ConDem coalition nauseating.  This could make the difference in Tory/Labour marginals such as Hangleton and Knoll and the two Portslade seats.

As I see it, eight months out, I predict the Greens and the Tories will end neck and neck, with neither having a majority.  Labour, with about twelve seats, will hold the balance of power.  As for the Lib Dems, the will have waddled off to oblivion.

(My apologies to ducks, none of which were hurt in the writing of this post)

Desperation from class conscious David Cameron: Appeal to Lib Dems is “vacuous spin” that fools nobody

How must you feel if you are an honest, long standing Liberal Democrat?  David Cameron has urged the Liberal Democrats to focus on the similarities between their two parties, that there was a “lot less disagreement than there used to be” between his party and the Lib Dems and that he doesn’t think that “we should invent differences where there aren’t differences”.

If this is part of a co-ordinated plan nobody has told Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg’s chief of staff Danny Alexander who told the BBC that, “This kind of vacuous spin is fooling nobody. David Cameron seems to be confused about what a fairer Britain means.  For the Liberal Democrats it means cutting taxes for the lowest-paid, for him it means cutting them for millionaires.  ….. the Conservatives cannot be trusted where fairness is concerned.”

If this has not been co-ordinated, it is a sign of desperation from the Tory leader. His poll numbers remain soft and his lead is eroding while, in today’s Observer, it is reported that Labour’s vote is hardening.

There was a great article by John Harris in the Guardian on 8th December  that said “It was all looking so good for the Tories: an assured leader taunting a government in tatters. But recently, criticisms of David Cameron’s background and his party’s inconsistency have hit home.  Now the prospect of a Conservative landslide seems to have disappeared”.

The real Achilles Heel for the Tories is class. They are embarrassed by Cameron’s background, of the double-barreled surnames, the nom-doms.  Ipsos MORI’s Ben Page says that Cameron’s background is an issue, that ordinary people believe that he cannot be “in touch” with them and that he cannot know about their lives.

In Brighton Pavilion class will be an issue. Chuck Vere, in spite of my attempts to educate her on Brighton bus routes, will be seen as a London-based Tory, not in touch with issues facing ordinary people in Brighton. Caroline Lucas, while addressing the distance that some perceive she has from ordinary community issues locally, is torn between Brussels and Brighton, a factor that singularly undermines her electability locally.  Nancy Platts wins hands down on these issues, but remains seriously disadvantaged by being the Labour candidate. Any one of these impressive women would make an excellent MP, but each has to overcome these burdens if they are to cross the winning line in front of the other two.

Vote tactically or prepare for the worst

The Taxpayers Alliance is advocating the end of universal Child Benefit amongst a list of money saving ideas.  According to one reporter on Radio 5 Live this morning, the Tories are hiding under their duvet covers, not wanting to be drawn on which cuts they will support.

What exactly do the Tories stand for?  David Cameron is trying to be all things to all people.  He won’t confirm that there will be public spending cuts after the elction, but says he is being ‘frank’ with the voters. How will he reduce public expenditure by £20 billion?  All he has done is to pledge to cut subsidised alcohol and food for MP’s and reduce ministerial salaries if the Tories win power at the next election – populist issues but as significant as spitting into a Force 10 gale at Cape Horn.

The best quote comes from Lib Dem Danny Alexander who said, “The Liberal Democrats have proposed not renewing Trident. David Cameron wants to increase the price of salads”.

At least Chancellor Alistair Darling is being more honest. He has said the government will have to “cut costs” and “shift resources to the front line” to deal with the recession’s effects. He said “hard choices” included looking at selling off “non-essential public sector assets” and shifting resources to “where they are needed most”. The devil will be in the detail.

Expect it to be bad if Labour get back in. Expect it to be a whole lot worse under the Tories. Our best hope is for a hung Parliament. That’s why the Tactical Voting Campaign is so important.