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Should the Lib Dems treat the 2015 election as their Rorke’s Drift

June 7th, 2014

The video above is what it must feel like to be Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems and what awaits them in next year’s General Election.

James Kirkup in the Telegraph writes about the Lib Dems in Newark

If Labour was passive in Newark, the Lib Dems were non-existent. Not a single Lib Dem MP campaigned there, and only a single peer. (Lord Newby). The cash-strapped central party gave no support to the local candidate. Finishing sixth and losing the deposit surprised no one.

Arguably, this was rational: the Lib Dems have scarce resources and have decided to concentrate them on those seats where they have a realistic chance of holding on; trying to make gains is almost entirely ruled out. Phil Cowley of Nottingham University has snappily dubbed this a Zulu strategy, Clegg’s redcoats retreating to the last line of mealie bags.

Prof Cowley persuasively says that’s “a sign of a party that is sensibly marshalling resources.”

I agree with Professor Cowley.

Whilst we have first past the post, the national share of the vote is irrelevant, it’s all about the number of the seats you win. As seems likely on current polling, next year, UKIP will outpoll the Lib Dems, but the Lib Dems will end up with more MPs, the fact the Lib Dems have started to do this a year before the election leads me to believe they’ll do better than currently anticipated.

James Kirkup seems to think Lib Dems as having to give up on any pretence of being a national party.

Whilst this looks bad in the newspapers and upsets the activists at their breakfast, this would be for only one electoral cycle, they could use their base of seats from 2015 onwards to rebuild.

If it comes down to losing 200-400 deposits and having 40 MPs or losing 50 deposits, but only having 20 MPs, we all know which option we’d go for if we were in the Lib Dems shoes. It is easier to rebuild with more MPs than fewer MPs.

You can bet on the number on Lib Dem seats at the next election, the 31-40 band looks appealing. 

Of course this is all predicated on the premise that Clegg and co are like Chard and Bromhead and not the Zulus.

TSE