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Is Pickles winning the “love-bombing” war?

September 24th, 2009

Can Pickles entice Lib Dems into voting Tory?

This week I’ve been on holiday in Hadrian’s Wall country in Northumberland away from a fast internet connection so I have been unable to catch up on what seems to have been the political broadcasting highlight – the encounter on the Today programme between Tory Chairman, Eric Pickles, and the prominent Lib Dem, Chris Huhne.

See this from Harry Phibbs in the Guardian for the details and a description of Chris Huhne’s response.

“….While Pickles called Huhne “charming”, Huhne sprayed back abuse, ranging from smearing Latvian MEPs as Nazi sympathisers to complaining about David Cameron having his papers driven for him in a car while he went ahead on a bike.

Huhne’s remarks are mild compared to comments he was planning to make about William Hague, the shadow foreign secretary. Apparently Huhne wanted to describe Hague as “a skinhead who has gone round the beer cellars of Europe and come up with the dregs”.

During the past two Lib Dem leadership contests I was a strong backer of Huhne and until the last week or so thought that he had one of the best approaches for dealing with the Cameron affect and the Tory surge. These comments suggest that he has got it badly wrong.

For the first rule of political campaigning is that you only launch attacks like this if it’s going to chime with the audience you are aiming at. That’s Politics 101. This might go down well with conference delegates but not the wider group of Lib Dem voters.

Both Huhne and Pickles ought to look at the detail from this week’s Guardian ICM poll. Not only did it show that 23% of 2005 Lib Dem voters had now switched to the Tories but that a significant chunk of current supporters might also move.

These are the people Pickles is aiming at and Huhne’s over the top approach might just encourage them.

Mike Smithson