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Clegg’s big EE2014 gamble: pitching the LDs as the party of “in” and leading the fight against UKIP

December 31st, 2013

Can the yellows retain their 4th place?

The Telegraph is leading this morning on attacks by Nick Clegg and Treasury Secretary, Danny Alexander, on UKIP with them pitching the party as the only one which is enthusiastic about remaining in the EU.

This is the first serious campaigning ahead of May’s elections which are now less than five months away.

The Clegg argument is that a strong vote performance by UKIP in the election will send out the message to business that Britain is less than fully committed to the EU which could make it more cautious about investing in the country. A big UKIP vote could undermine the recovery.

Clearly, given his party’s current Westminster polling position and its record of doing poorly in these elections, the LDs could struggle even to win a single MEP. There is also the possibility that they could finish fifth behind the Greens.

In his New Year message Clegg says: UKIP want out. The Conservatives are flirting with exit. And Labour don’t have the courage of their convictions on this.”

The big question is whether this niche approach, going for the pro EU segment of the electorate, will stave off what many had predicted as being a disaster for the party.

From Clegg’s perspective there is little to lose and maybe a lot to gain by being the one who is not equivocating in his approach to the Farage threat. Also it might be smart positioning the party as the main opponents of UKIP.

Time will tell.

Mike Smithson

Blogging from OUTSIDE the Westminster bubble since 2004