Wednesday, 19 May 2010

Criticisms of the Lib Dem campaign‏

Ray Earwicker Lib Dem PPC for Bracknell believes that some criticism of the election campaign is justified. Here are his thoughts.

The leadership pressed home the four tenets of fairness underlying the campaign for far too long. Once it became clear that the main focus of the debate had shifted on to more controversial areas such as immigration, Europe and Trident we should have been ready to counter more effectively the arguments put forward by the media and the opposition against our proposals. The fact that we weren't able to do so undoubtedly lost us lost votes towards the end of the campaign, as the opinion polls all too clearly showed.

My second criticism concerns the presidential nature of the campaign. This may have been unavoidable given the pressure from the media to make it one but it prevented other members of the campaign team from making a bigger contribution to the campaign and may be taking some of the pressure off Nick. It also meant that the focus of attention remained on personalities rather than policies.

Thirdly, if there are any criticisms to be made of the organisation of the campaign, I would support those who found it difficult to obtain policy advice or guidance from HQ during the weeks before the election. The decision to replace the well-established Extranet information system with the new Huddle software package just before the election was asking for trouble. It was difficult to access, slow to respond and almost impossible to navigate; when time is of the essence familiarity is essential, especially for technophobes like me! The quality of the advice, however, that was eventually provided was generally excellent.

Finally,HQ need to ensure that candidates have a clear understanding of the lines of communication; who is responsible for what and how they can be contacted. Trying to make contact with Cowley Street is never easy but during the campaign it was like trying to make contact with the other side - is there anybody there?

My thoughts

I am not a parliamentary candidate so I do not know much about the Huddle system but I too have some thoughts on this. I believe that Liberal Democrats should of defended some seats better. For example, I like many others was disappointed to not only fall back in Oxford East where local Liberal Democrat campaign teams were directed too but to of lost Evan Harris in Oxford West. Next time I will be helping to get Evan Harris elected as his scientific background was a great loss to the parliament in general.

Newsnight showed a few seats where the surge caught the Liberal Democrats by surprise. This didn't happen locally where teams campaigned hard. but I do feel as if the surge and seat targeting perhaps directed Liberal Democrats away from defence. This I feel was inevitable because the surge too along time to decrease and was more spread between seats (second place in 242 up from 188).

Seats where much less predictable on national swings than anytime I can remember. Result really varied and I think there were local issues affecting many results.

I will add that individually I was impressed with the Lib Dem MP's on the media. If there was any wobbles it was because there was not a comprehensive response to defend some policies. I think this period of shared power will improve the Lib Dems arguments and battle for ideas.


  1. I found it quite easy to get policy information from the lib dem website and was able to locate and read the manifesto with no trouble. I do agree though that the campaign did have a presidential feel about it.

  2. With the leaders' debates, I don't think a presidential-style campaign could have been avoided. I thought, though, that it was less focused on one person than previous campaigns.

    The Lib Dem GE campaigns are normally a one-man show (Paddy or Charlie). This time we had Vince, not to mention other senior MPs like Chris Huhne.

    More women would have been good, but we're heading in the right direction.

  3. Well its not my words, I do think that lib dem manifesto was clear on the web site, but if your a PPC your looking up more detailed questions to answer the many emails on specific areas. I dont use it perhaps it was not launched on time.

  4. just as the surge happened we desperately needed to show that we were more than just Nick. OK, the media will only follow the leader around but were we had the chance to put ourselves across (in posters, paper adverts and PPB's) we could have introduced our talented 'cabinet in waiting' - a better value campaign than Labservative.

    Missed opportunity as even some people lost touch with the fact that Vince and Clegg shared the same party.