So, as we enter the party conference season once again, I’ve been slightly amused this weekend by the sight of both the Lib Dems and the Tories both trying to woo each others supporters. Perhaps it’s just me, but this seems ever so slightly sleazy – like trying to hit on the girlfriend of someone you don’t particularly like very much, just because you can.
The main difference here of course is that whilst ‘Nasty Nick Clegg’ has come out fighting, describing Cameron as a ‘con man’, in a bid to gain support from dubious Tory voters, Cameron has today appealed directly to the Clegg and his colleagues by pointing out just how similar the two parties really are on policy and their alleged progressive agenda.
Anyone who has read Cameron’s editorial in todays edition of The Observer cannot have failed to have been surprised at the content – Cameron positioning the Tories and Lib Dems as brothers in arms in the fight against Labour.
Take this example:
There’s barely a cigarette paper between us in all these areas. It’s clear: the real enemy of progressive politics is not the Conservatives and I would not claim it is the Liberal Democrats. In truth, it is the bureaucratic, backward-looking, big state government that Labour epitomises. That is why at our conference, instead of trying to create some artificial dividing lines between Liberal Democrat policy and Conservative policy, my message will be: if you want rid of Gordon Brown and the big brother state, and if you care about our schools, our quality of life and our liberties, then join us in one national movement that can bring real change.
It’s easy to read between the lines and see the subtext here – what appears to be an olive branch thrust towards Clegg, is in fact saying, “Join us if you want, although it doesn’t really matter either way, seeing as a large proportion of Lib Dem voters will support us anyway just to remove Labour”
As usual, this the typical sort of slick behaviour that I have come to expect from Cameron; and let’s be honest here, he’s bloody good at it – unfortunately however, the sincerity is all but missing.
How can there possibly be a coalition between the two parties, when their positions on taxation are so very different?
Clegg’s tactics are different – the talk this weekend of savage cuts , is clearly designed to position the Lib Dems as being braver and more honest than the Tories, who, as usual are unable to back up their shouting with any substance visible to the human eye. The same could be said of the Lib Dem proposals with regards to tuition fees – an obvious overture to Tory voters, and one that has ruffled some feathers amongst the Lib Dem faithful.
Will any of this make any difference though? As I see it, the only winners here are the Tories. Even at this stage, there are many Tory voters who are still unconvinced by Cameron, and possibly to a greater degree by his sidekick George Osborne – however, do we really expect these people to suddenly vote for the Lib Dems? Come next years general election, all those Tory voters will come out in droves if it means removing Brown from power.
Try as they might, the Lib Dems will not benefit from this.