Back at the 1981 Liberal Party conference the then party leader David Steel in his address to conference famously said “Go back your constituencies and prepare for government.”
But sadly for David Steele and for the then Liberal party that address became infamous as at the 1983 general election though the Liberal-SDP Alliance took 25% of the popular vote they didn’t make any substantial gains in regards to parliamentary seats.
I always reckoned that if there was to be a televised debate then it would bolster support for the Liberals and there’s evidence illustrating that there’s a boost in support for the Lib Dems, as two opinion polls taken after the televised debates show a slender lead to the Liberal Democrats.
Does this mean that the Lib Dems will be forming the next government come May 7th?
The answer to that question is no; but not because this is a blip in the opinion polls but because of the logistical mathematical swing the Lib Dems would need to get an overall majority is a near impossibility. What these opinion polls published this weekend are saying is that the likely outcome of the general election on May 6th is currently a hung parliament which might likely result in Conservative-Liberal coalition.
Personally though I’m not sure Nick Clegg can sustain the boost for the Lib Dems, if for any other reason it will be due to the next televised debate to hosted by Sky Television & on issues relating to foreign affairs. Sky is part of the Murdoch media empire & its pretty obvious Murdoch’s print media is supportive of the Tories & Sky News is known to of had a bent in that political direction as well; but as well as Sky possibly favouring the Tories this upcoming debate on Thursday is on foreign affairs & though Clegg will do well on the mess in the Middle East, I’m not so sure he’ll do well when it comes to the EU, because we all know the majority of people in this country are euro sceptic whereas the Lib Dems are generally euro enthusiasts particularly Clegg.
Though I’m no longer a Lib Dem member I do hope the Lib Dems do well this election & if I were advising Clegg on this upcoming debate I’d suggest to him to stress that the Lib Dem policy in regards to the European Union is fact to hold a referendum on whether Britain stays if the Lib Dems ever won power. It might come of surprise to some who see the Lib Dems as the most enthusiastic of the three major parties for the federalisation of Europe, but that is the party policy top give the people of Britain whether that’s what they want. Thing is despite the Lib Dems having a policy of holding a referendum on Britain’s role in Europe I’d imagine Brown & Cameron will make the most of the Lib Dems support for the EU going against the wishes of the British people & the host broadcaster Sky no doubt will try to make the most it as well.
If there is a plus in regards to the TV debates & what they do in regards to the opinion polls, there is still some hope for the Lib Dems, in that the last TV debate is on the economy & when there was the chancellor’s debate it was Vince Cable of the Lib Dems who won. Generally the Lib Dems having been polling well in regards to their economic policies as well as policies in regards to parliamentary reform (another crucial issue at this election). We all know though that what the opinion polls might say now doesn’t always translate come the day of the election.
If the opinion polls are to be believed then yes the likely outcome is a hung parliament most probably with the Tories having the largest number of seats, so exciting times for the Lib Dems & the real possibility of Liberals going back to their constituencies & preparing for government; but the big question is will the grassroots membership in the constituencies buy into a coalition with the Tories?