The LibDems are getting pummelled in the polls – this morning a YouGov poll has them down another 3% to 13% with the Tories unchanged on 33%. Guido finds it hard to believe the accuracy of this poll – with Labour at 44% that makes them more popular than in 1997 when they scored 43%. Not very likely is it?
A hung parliament is still the most likely outcome of the next election whatever the polls currently say. The only way to ensure that outcome is to take seats off Labour, swapping Tory and LibDem seats will not change the government.
Is it time for them to consider tactical voting? Mike Smithson over at PoliticalBetting.com has made the case for this before, if you want to get rid of this government, vote for the party best placed to beat New Labour in your constituency. In Scotland that seems to have happened already, the business community has switched from the no-hope Tories to the SNP. In return the SNP has begun to talk more about “Enterprise Scotland” and is now polling even stronger than during the recent local elections.
The problem is that LibDem and Tory activists hate each other. They would not countenance any explicit instruction to vote for the other party. Often at each others neck in local government, the idea of a non-aggression pact is unpalatable. Rather than going into any protracted negotiations the Tories should just direct resources away from LibDem incumbents and into the battle in Labour seats. The LibDems political antennae would detect the shift, they would consequently be able to shift their more limited resources away from defending LibDem seats against Tory insurgents and towards attacking Labour incumbents.
Encouraging Tories and LibDems to work together is not easy, but there is one issue that is heartfelt by LibDems and Tories in their libertarian hearts – ID cards. Pushing ID cards up the political agenda would place Tories and LibDems on the same side of the barricades against an authoritarian government. Psychologically a useful pre-cursor to a post-election deal. If Tory and LibDem activists worked together on the NO 2 ID campaign they might even find their rivals more likeable. As Brown begins to sound more and more authoritarian, emphasising “Strength”, “Britain” and “British jobs for British workers” the Liberal Democrats may realise they have a lot more in common with Cameron’s liberal Conservatives than with Brown’s ideology of state power. Ming may lean towards Brown, but the next LibDem leader is less likely to do so…