Another day, another article in the Guardian. This time it’s Michael Cockerell, who has written that:
Tory electoral prospects could now be in the hands of the Lib Dem’s new Davealike leader.
Clearly the MSM have already chosen their preferred albatross to hang around our neck, and it is that our new leader is a clone of Dave Cameron. This, it seems, on the back of the following startling simmilarities:
2. Not been MPs for very long (so… pretty much the “young” point again)
3. …… dark hair?
Well, never mind. We’ve had worse.
What amuses me more about this whole thing is the idea that David Cameron clearly thinks it’s such a great tactic to play this up, by making noises about a “progressive alliance”, as if this is going to really sabotage us but do him no harm at all. From where I’m sitting, the reverse is true: Dave Cameron’s strategy has, as Cockerell points out, been to try and move onto our ground.
The new Liberal Democrat leader, Nick Clegg, has been widely characterised as a Cameron clone, but much less widely noticed is that Cameron’s strategy has been quite specifically to target Lib Dem voters.
In a speech just a fortnight after becoming leader, Cameron dubbed himself “a liberal Conservative”: his two core values, “trusting people and sharing responsibility”, were those of the Lib Dems. And he said that in most of the seats the Tories needed to win to topple Labour, the size of the Lib Dem vote was larger than the Labour majority. So the answer was staggeringly simple: “It is time for Liberal Democrat voters, councillors and MPs to come and join the Conservative party.”
The co-author of Cameron’s strategy is his reclusive media guru, Steve Hilton. An ex-Saatchi man, Hilton is an expert in political marketing, commercial rebranding and so-called consumer segmentation. And he has put his knowledge to work for Cameron.
One top Tory in a position to know explained the Hilton strategy: “Since our high point in 1992 we have lost over 5 million voters, as well as over 150 seats. Meanwhile the Lib Dems’ share of the vote has steadily risen and they have more than trebled their seats – almost all at our expense. Dave’s prime aim is win back those 5 million lost voters.”
And last weekend the Tory leader reinforced the message he had first sent to the Lib Dems two years ago, in a subtly different form. Instead of calling for Lib Dems to defect, he offered to join forces, to create “a new progressive alliance” to oust Gordon Brown.
So surely the response to overtures from Dave to the electorate to try and paint himself as “basically a pretty liberal kinda guy” is to turn round and ask why, if he thinks that what the country wants is basically a Lib Dem-alike party, should people vote for him and not us. That is, if people want someone who looks a bit like Cameron or Clegg and are attracted by how many times we can use the word “liberal”, then why should they choose the one dragging a half-unreconstructed Thatcherite party behind him? Instead of simply replying that the offer is mischievous and that Dave lives in “cloud-cuckoo land”, as Vince has, why can’t we instead respond with something like:
“If David Cameron wants to join a liberal, progressive movement for the future of this country, then why doesn’t he just join the party he has so flatteringly sought to emulate for the last two years? Of course, he would have to accept a few basic liberal principles…” Cue list of points on which we hold the undeniably progressive higher ground.
Of course, I hope Nick has his own ideas for dealing with Cameron, as has been suggested at his meeting with the assembled Lib Dem blogging royalty yesterday. As Alix reported it:
Don’t worry [dark expression]. He’ll be dealt with.