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Can Blair appeal to the liberal and illiberal at the same time?

December 30th, 2004


In his attempt to pull off an unprecedented and spectacular third General Election victory Tony Blair is making crime/law & order/ and immigration the centre pieces of Labour’s policy portfolio. These were the main items in the Queen’s Speech last month and they are the centre part of his New Year’s message, just published.

Before the 1997 Election Blair had the brilliant “Tough on Crime – Tough on the Causes of Crime” rhetoric to underpin his appeal to both the liberal and illiberal. Since then the Home Secretaryships of Straw and Blunkett have put Labour firmly in the authoritarian camp and this will go on. But is it the right strategy? Is he in danger of not pleasing either?

  • Labour continue to trail behind the Tories on these issues which are the one area where the Tories are consistently ahead.
  • Labour needs to hang on to Lib Dem leaning supporters to assure victory and these groups have grown substantialy due to disillusionment over Iraq, tuition fees, and the law and order policies such as ID cards.
  • It reinforces Michael Howard’s record and his “prison works” rhetoric which went down well with the illiberal.
  • The expected voting dynamic of the coming election will be of the Tories flat-lining – but not moving back – but with real volatility between Labour and the Lib Dems. Tony Blair has to be able to shore up switching to the Tories while keeping the liberal faction on board. These objectives might not be possible to reconcile and LD slippage looks to be the most menacing.

      Why not put the focus on Labour’s strengths – the NHS, where the extra investment is starting to show, and the economy where the UK has weathered the recent world down-turn remarkably well?

    Meanwhile the General Election seat spreads have shown one seat movements to both the LDs and Tories. These are from Spreadfair – the spreadbetting exchange. LAB 351.5-353: CON 195-199: LIBD 71 -71.5: SNP 5-6: PC 4-5: UKIP 0.6-1.1

    Users should note that in order to defray some of Politicalbetting’s costs we receive a commission on accounts that are opened through the site.

    Mike Smithson






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