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Yesterday ConservativeHome argued that the Liberal Democrats are David Cameron’s biggest headache.  Tomorrow Britain’s third party announces that Nick Clegg will be their next leader.  Surely it will be him?  On today’s Platform Iain Duncan Smith argues that we are most likely to beat the LibDems by being a decent party ourselves.

In the most recent ConservativeHome readers’ survey we asked for your ideas on we should tackle the Liberal Democrats.  We’ve selected some of your verbatim responses and publish them below under seven broad headings…

DON’T GIVE THEM PUBLICITY (AND NEGATIVE CAMPAIGNING DOESN’T WORK)

  • “By ignoring them”
  • “Don’t give them the oxygen of publicity.”
  • “Be more ssertive in publicising Conservative policies. Negative campaigning, even when true, turns the electorate off. It also gives them publicity & inprints their names in the electorate’s mind.”
  • “They are doing quite enough to tackle themselves- just ignore them.”
  • “Let them continue to hang themselves.”
  • “Concentrate on being Conservatives; the Liberal Democrats will fade away.”
  • “Exhibit lofty disregard.”

HIGHLIGHT THEIR UNPOPULAR AND INCONSISTENT POLICIES

  • “You should explain that their plans to axe council tax for a local income tax will make the average family worse off.”
  • “By highlighting their constant demand for more taxes.”
  • “LibDems want us to be a province of Europe! We should expose this in PR output.”
  • “By highlighting the inconsistencies in their stated policies.”
  • “Mass publicity of their daftest ideas.”
  • “The Conservative Party takes a far too relaxed attitude to the LibDems. Every opportunity must be taken to examine, expose & ridicule their far-left, spendthrift policies. The LibDems are are a far greater danger than they are given credit for & must be countered & neutralised at every opportunity.”
  • “High visibility attacks on their policy stances and the variations between constituencies.”
  • “Expose them as more left than Labour. It is a myth that they are in the centre and a place for Tories to protest too in mid term. They are very radical , silly and dangerous and more irresponsible than Labour , more like left Labour. We must expose them on Defence , as unilateralists and as a high tax and spend party.”

MAKE THEM IRRELEVANT BY STEALING THEIR POPULAR POLICIES

  • “We should strengtnen our green Policies particularly the
    decarbonisation of the electricity supply and attack them as surrogate
    Socialists.”
  • “By pursuing socially liberal policies on issues of
    lifestyle and by concentrating on traditional strong Liberal Democrat
    issues such as the environment and localism.”

PRESENT THEM AS A WASTED VOTE THAT COULD KEEP LABOUR IN POWER

  • “Expose them as having no hope in forming a govt.”
  • “Go with the "Vote LD – get Labour" targetting.”
  • “Paint them as the left to labour Say they will prop up a defeated labour party Show that they’re very illiberal.”
  • “Depict
    them as a wasted vote because only the Conservative Party can provide
    the change required after 10 years of Labour mismanagement.”
  • “By promoting the fact that a vote for them, effectively increases`Labours chance of re-election.”
  • “We can form the next govt, they can’t.”
  • “Ram home the message to voters that the only way for them to sack the Government is to vote for the only viable alternative”
  • “TAKE EVERY OPPORTUNITY TO DEMONSTRATE THAT voting for them is not the way to change this government.”

UNDERMINE THEM FROM WITHIN (PARTICULARLY BY ENCOURAGING DEFECTIONS)

  • “Play on their internal ideological divisions, which are gigantic,
    in order to put across a picture of them as ineffectual would-be
    politicians who are only interested in in-fighting and killing off
    their leaders.”
  • “Encourage their supporters to defect to us.”
  • “You
    should try to cox Vince Cable to defect to the tories. He is the star
    of the Lib/dem and is wasted there. He would be invaluable as a Tory
    minister.”
  • “There’s very little difference between an "old school"
    Liberal and a "new school" Conservative. Old school Liberals are
    starting to see that. Party loyalty is the only remaining issue. If we
    want to attract old school Libs then we must continue to offer them old
    Tory "wet" policies.”
  • “We must re-educate them. The Tories have
    moved away from the hardliners on the right. With the LDs self
    destructing, now is the time to pull the tooth and absorb their
    followewrs into out camp. Co-opt any sensible policies into our own
    culture. We are no longer the party of just the aristocracy or top end
    business. We must be and seen to be the party of aspiration for all and
    achievement by all.”
  • “Try to embrace more conservative minded libdem
    mps/candidates. They want power but will never have it as a LibDem so
    try and get more of them to defect, and fight those more left/labour
    leaning ones.”
  • “Look for those who lean more to the right and involve them in the next Conservative administration.”

LOVEBOMBING

  • “Forge close relations with them on issues we agree on (like 28 day
    detention limit) in case we need them to form a minority govt”
  • “Love
    bomb them on green issues, ID cards, localism Highlight their nuttier
    policies, like amnesty for illegal immigrants, unilateral disarmament,
    more European regionalisation and federalism.”
  • “Love their councilors and activists to death whilst exposing the inconsistencies of their policies.”
  • “Appear
    nicer, more moderate sounding, less extreme and more decent. Be
    sensible, offer good policies that are popular and deliverable, show
    local conservatism to work.”

Read ConservativeHome’s definition of love-bombing.

BEAT THEM AT PAVEMENT POLITICS

  • “Fight them on local issues in every village, every ward, and every constituency.”
  • “Beat
    them at their own game – local activism, regular leaflets, building up
    assocations locally. Requires hardwork and targetting.”
  • “Target vulnerable sitting Lib Dems with pavement politics. Focus on Local candidates both for local government and PPCs.”
  • "Work harder and spend more than them in marginal constituences."
  • "At grass roots level. The Lib Dem communications machine at local level is excellent in terms of feedback to the electorate – far better than ours and Labour’s. But we need a funded distribution system and must not rely on local volunteers, who are overloaded as it is."
  • "Conservatives need to survey, canvass and listen to voters. Then we may offer the electorate the choices they seek. There is no alternative to foot slogging in the constituency to let people know you are around and care for them."

Now, it is clear that these approaches are not all consistent with each other but many thanks to everyone for their contributions. All 1,033 are all being forwarded to CCHQ…

27 comments for: Seven approaches to beating the Liberal Democrats

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