4 Oct 2014

Lib Dems – despite it all, still game?

Thousands of people poured into the area around the Lib Dem Conference in Glasgow around lunchtime, just as the debates were getting under way.

Alas for the Lib Dems they were here to see Scotland’s Still Game comedy live at the Hydro next door (it’s a sort of urban, Scottish Last of the Summer Wine).

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Lib Dems are in much thinner numbers this year. Though, it has to be reported, they are “still game.” They refuse to believe it’s all over.

Some point to the recent Ashcroft poll that would depress less persistent souls and say it shows they’re still in contention in a lot of seats they’re defending. They point out that Lib Dem candidates’ names weren’t used in the Ashcroft poll and might help them get the 2 per cent swing back to Lib Dems from Tories that would help them holdĀ  on to the seats.

One poll has them at 6 per cent national share of the vote. They were nearly obliterated in the European elections, thwacked again in the local elections and recent parliamentary by-elections.

But those that are here, and it would be wrong to say the numbers are overwhelming, plough on through baffling amendments on the internal democratic processes of the party and, as I write, a worthy debate about sex-workers.

They talk about how the Ukip challenge spurs other parties to ape the Farage line on immigration or welfare and leaves Lib Dem activitists feeling more comfortable in their distinctive skins.

Lib Dems will argue this week that the Tories would cut too much and that Labour would borrow too much.

But in a novel twist, the Lib Dems are planning to paint an even darker picture of deficit reduction still to come. Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, thinks George Osborne is under-stating the work still to be done in the 2015-20 parliament through cuts and/or tax rises.

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