One of the many things I picked up at conference a couple of weeks ago was a set of LDYS’s lovely Lib Dem MPs Top Trumps cards. At the time, I thought something along the lines of “oh, that’s a fun little idea for political geeks”. But oh, how wrong I appear to have been.
Having left them on the table in my room, when they were first noticed I was expecting some admonishment for having spent money on such a thing. Instead, within minutes of their discovery, four of my friends were sat around my room playing with them. It turns out people (students, at any rate) will play top trumps with anything they can find. Or perhaps it’s just my friends.
Either way, these have proven to be a great way to force home a few points far more effectively than I might ever be able to do in a more conventional way. Play with these cards for a few minutes, and people start to realise just how many Lib Dem frontbenchers they have actually heard of and know about. They see just how popular some of them are in their own constituencies. They are introduced to the idea that, like any other party, we have plenty of people you don’t hear all that much about – backbenchers, basically – and that we’re not just the same crowd of maybe 10 people you hear about on the TV (if that).
And of course, it’s funny what stands out about someone on their Top Trumps cards. Someone like Willie Rennie, surely a hero as far as Lib Dem lore goes, actually has some seemingly pretty uninspired stats on his card. By the same token, the sheer regularity with which people like David Heath go out to bat is also brought out.
Playing the game using our rules, when ties happen, instead of picking a new stat, we thought it would be more fun to decide who had the “best” photo. By which we seem to mean who looks the most interesting. Fulfilling Lib Dem stereotypes will get you quite far; a beard is an instant advantage. In any such play-off, John Thurso wins hands down with his amazing moustache. Other features considered to be interesting include Paul Keetch‘s background, in that his picture comes from some conference or other and therefore sees him stood in front of a glowing Libby-bird, bathed in an amber glow. It is perhaps the closest thing I have seen to Lib Dem religious iconography.
Even I have been encouraged to learn more about our parliamentary party, spurred by my inability to remember what someone’s portfolio is, or simply by an interest in knowing more about some of the ones I’ve barely heard of.
So overall, a big well done to LDYS, for producing this handy little aid to familiarising one’s friends with the party without it seeming like any effort at all.
UPDATE: Mark has left the following helpful comment:
If you would like a pack LDYS still has about 20 left. Please contact Paul Pettinger at email@example.com or on 020 7227 1387. They cost £6.95 + 50p postage.