...a blog by Richard Flowers

Saturday, May 05, 2007

Day 2314: May the Fourth Be With You!


It was a dark time for the Liberal Alliance [No, no, no, no, noooooo]…

Oh bobbins! It seems like the EVIL EMPIRE have been using their ULTIMATE WEAPON – the BALLOON STAR – to explode several of our planets. There is only one thing for it, we must use the HIDDEN WEAKNESS by finding the SECRET PLANS… ah, now I realise why Mr Balloon HAS no plans!

It has been a bit of a HORRID night, all in all. I am sorry to have to say that, but it is TRUE.

Mr James was not impressed either, although Mr Jonny thinks that it is a PARADOX, with mixed messages for all parties.

As a FLUFFY ELEPHANT, I had very much hoped we Liberal Democrats could hold our own, maintaining our overall share of the vote. And if we maybe lost some council seats to the rising tide of the Conservatories I had hoped that we would cancel those out by making gains off of the Labour.

But it seems that the Labour's voters have decided to hold onto the hope that WHOEVER comes next (it will be Mr Frown) cannot be as bad as Lord Blairimort (he can!).

So although we have in fact managed to keep our end up in Wales and Scotland, we have clearly lost a couple of hundred councillors; and although our share of the vote at 26% is in fact barely changed from last year we have suffered the PSYCHOLOGICAL blow of seeing the Labour slip back ahead of us. Just barely.

I suspect that the reason for this may ACTUALLY be because the Liberal Democrats are now doing much BETTER. Yes, I know this sounds WONKY! But if you think about it, we are now coming under fire from BOTH of the other big parties as increasingly they retreat onto their home turf. In the south, where there is barely a councillor from the Labour to be seen, we have to stand against the Conservatories; but in the north where – significantly – the "Balloon Effect" has yet to fly, we are the ONLY opposition standing up to the Labour.

This leads to the BIZARRE situation of Mr Paxo accusing us of being "tarts" for trying to represent the WHOLE of the country!

(Mr Vince "Captain Power" Cable did NOT answer this question very well! He should have asked Mr Paxo if he would prefer it if we we're like the other parties and did not BOTHER with large chunks of the country. Mind you, at least Mr Vince pulled himself together again after that – Auntie Maude had disintegrated completely!)

We need to learn TWO important lessons, I am afraid.

Firstly, we need to learn to DEFEND ourselves much better. Holding a council is much harder work than taking one – because all of your good activists are now busy BEING councillors. And we need to work out a plan to stop ourselves getting all the blame for the mess left behind when Conservatories and Labour get kicked out. Otherwise, like weeds, they just come back.

We can pull in workers from surrounding areas to try to have enough numbers to keep delivering and campaigning but… well, aren't we rather good at doing this already? And if the areas where we do well are surrounded by others areas where we do well, well where do the spare people come from?

So we advance, but we get washed back. Which is disappointing.

On the other fluffy foot, Mr Councillor Stephen points out that many of our losses to the Conservatories were in places where the Conservatories were already strong, while in our own areas we were the ones taking seats. If Mr Balloon is consolidating and not advancing then he may find our MPs harder to dislodge than he boasts.

Secondly, we need to learn a new technique for ATTACKING, because we are no longer at the cutting edge, and in the main we are targeting against the Labour now rather than the Conservatories. The Labour are a very different kettle of fish, much more inclined to be TRIBAL. Yes, I know you don't get TRIBES of FISH.

Speaking of TRIBAL, personally I think that we made a MISTAKE in Scotland by campaigning so strongly against the Scottish Nasty Party's idea of a REFERENDUM. I think that it would have been better to say:

"Well, that's really a question for any negotiations after the election. We don't see the need for one, we think that there are more important things to get on and do for Scotland, and if one happened obviously we would campaign very strongly to keep the Union. We're a Liberal Party, a listening party and if that's the will of the Scottish people, then it wouldn't hurt us to hear their views. But it sounds like a huge waste of time and money so let me tell you what our priorities are instead…"

Insisting that we were against the referendum was just campaigning on the Scottish Nasties' territory. Why give them the free publicity?

We have plenty of things to talk about without having to talk about the Nasties' manifesto.

Because one thing that is GOOD is that we are sharpening up our POLICY OFFERING and PRESENTATION. I think it is widely recognised that we are MILES ahead of the Conservatories on this. If there is a crumb of comfort then it is that Mr Balloon's rise without trace was slightly blunted because he doesn't have ANY policies.

We need to remind ourselves that our top team now plays VERY WELL in the media. Sir Mr the Merciless himself is actually POPULAR, and particularly with younger voters who form the bedrock of our support. He talks about the things that matter to them and they respect him.

And to be fair he is not just a ONE-MAN-BAND the way that Captain Paddy and CK1 used to appear to be.

Mr Clogg has done very well in breaking thorough into the media world as well, with many appearances on the news in order to respond to the latest hilarity from the Home Office. Mr Ed has made his mark doing all the pundit shows and staying up all night with Mr Dimbledonkey. And our old friend Mr Hewn gets out a lot, too… (doing rather well on the Newsnight Show as I type!)

But we need to see more of our TALENT out there. We have GOT so many MPs now, we should USE them!

Our election broadcast about CRIME was quite good, but it was a CRIME that we did not see any of our lady MPs in our broadcasts. Ms Susan Kramer-vs-Kramer, Ms Julia Golds-Worth-her-weight-in, Queen of Bloggers Ms Featherweight, the amazing little Ms Jo and LOVELY SARAH TEATHER! Any one of them worth more than all fifteen OLD ETONIANS on Mr Balloon's front bench. Where were they all?

It wouldn't hurt to see more of Mr Tim or Mr Danny either – and let's have a lot more BIGGING UP of Mr Norman the Baker, defender of Freedom of Information!

We're never going to win an election by coverage in the national media alone – not in a world where we vanish from the front pages every time Mr Balloon drops his trousers. Campaigning on the ground, street by street, climbing EVERY STAIRCASE just to find that voter has always been our way.

But it is nice to know that we might get a little bit of support from the airwaves.

I think we should also thank the people who are taking us into CYBERSPACE, people like Mr Rob with his Lib Dem Voice, and Dr Pax and Mr Will sending results by TEXT from their electric broom-cupboard under the Cowley Street stairs!

It may not be Dale Winton on Certificate 18 Doubtful Street, but it's not Mr Millipede's robot-written blog either. It's the future. It should come with Garlic Bread.

So where do we go from here? Well, have a good sob into your nearest cuddly elephant if you need it, but then pick yourself up, dust yourself down and get ready to start all over again. Some of us have taken a drubbing, but we're still capable of winning – remember Hull! How's that for a battle cry!

And remember too, in four years time the Conservatories are going to have to try and defend these council seats while Mr Balloon will still have no policies and will be desperately trying to run the country from an unpopular minority government because a quarter of his party defected to UKIP the day after the next general election!

1 comment:

Paul Walter said...

Excellent post, Fluffy. You are learning from Mr Alex! The highlight was the picture of the Clangers. That made my day.