Monday, April 25, 2005

Hit or miss?

Chuckie K has come out with the expected attack on Labour over the war on Iraq and has called upon voters to revenge themselves upon Tory and Labour candidates on May 5.

I just don't see this as an effective vote-winner for the Liberal Democrats. If the issue was so important to you, your mind will already be made up, so I doubt that there will be many voters who will be swung to the LDs by being reminded about Iraq at this stage. While it will work against Labour in seats with a significant Muslim vote, there's also some evidence that in white, working-class seats, the war may actually have a positive effect.

The other point to bear in mind is how little this matters to the average voter. My experience of campaigning last year was that it wasn't a doorstep issue in the local elections (despite the efforts of some parties to generate votes that way) and it hasn't been a big issue this year. It surprised me, because this is the issue that has shaken my belief in the party more than any other, but people just aren't bothered by it.

The polls suggest it barely registers on the radar of most voters - just 3% cite it as a key factor in deciding their vote. In comparison, health scores 21%, tax and public services 15% and education and crime 13% apiece. We've had the leading opposition party banging on about asylum and immigration for weeks and that's only got to 9%, so the effect the LDs can have in a week will be limited. Even where the effect is expected to be magnified, in those seats with a large Muslim electorate, the anti-war vote will be divided between the LDs and Respect.

As with most elections, the floating voter will be mainly swayed by the issues that affect them. Health, crime, education and tax are the big issues, not foreign policy. The 20% who can't decide which party has the best policy on the headline issues will decide the election, not those who oppose the war. Whatever we may think of how Blair behaved over Iraq, it won't be a big factor across most of the country.

2 comments:

agentorange@easypeasy.com said...

Interestingly,Menzies Campbell admitted Saddam would probably still be in power if the Lib Dems were in government.

Not exactly the catchiest election statement I've heard on the national news.

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