Today’s newslinks bring the latest evidence that the Liberal Democrat election campaign is not going well.
Despite his pleas that interviewers stop “banging on about his faith”, Tim Farron is still dogged by questions about his conservative Christian beliefs – formerly on gay marriage, and now on abortion
Other writers have covered the basic point that there is nothing contradictory about combining conservative private beliefs and liberal – classically liberal, at any rate – politics. Indeed, by one measure the gap between what you support and what you tolerate could be the measure of one’s liberalism.
But whether or not you think this is a witch hunt by the London media, there’s no denying that having an evangelical lead Britain’s most significant socially-liberal and secular party was a strategic risk for which the Liberal Democrats might have planned, and have clearly not.
Leading on the EU and pitching to the mythical ’48 per cent’ has led the Lib Dems down an electoral cul de sac. With just over two weeks to polling day does the Government’s stumble in the polls over social care offer a way back?
It would be very surprising if they didn’t give it a go. The rigours of responsible government tend to weigh only lightly on minor parties during elections, and a pitch to better-off older voters might provide the party with some vital uplift in their southern, Tory-facing targets.
Such a bid might be complicated, however, by the fact that earlier this month they pledged to means-test the Winter Fuel Allowance.
More seriously, older voters are those most likely to oppose the Lib Dem’s policy on Brexit. As plans for electoral success go, building a coalition between metropolitan Europhiles and the grey vote seems unpromising.
Nonetheless, Farron is in desperate need of something to change the course of his campaign and save his leadership. A fresh pitch to older voters could be his last chance.