5 things the Lib Dems need to do next

1. Realise we haven’t hit rock bottom yet

Our biggest risk is assuming that things can only get better. In reality they can get much much worse — total annihilation.

We should avoid reaching for the comfort blanket of a 1% increase in the polls, or winning the odd council by-election here or there (although they are important).

Every campaign we run will need to have an underlying paranoia that we could disappear.

Every campaign we run must start by answering the question “how can we win this?”

2. Alongside number 1, there should be no, no-go areas.

I haven’t seen it anywhere, so I’ll say it.

One of the reasons I think we did so badly in the election is because we weren’t on the attack.

We talked about defending fortresses, well, towns under siege from a constant barrage on all sides tend to eventually fall. And fall we did.

If we aren’t on the attack, our opponents aren’t defending and if they aren’t defending they have more resources to attack. Never again.

We can learn lessons from Howard Dean’s 50 State Strategy if we are to rebuild sustainably for the future.

Every campaign we run must start by answering the question “how can we win this?”

3. Ditch the hyperbole around Conservative policy

The Tories are not the modern equivalent of 1930s fascists, we need to stop frothing at the mouth as though they are.

Not only do we look silly, but we set them up to get away with being total shits — and as a result when they do, no one will be surprised.

By hamming up the actions they are taking now, it weakens the charge we should make when they do overstep the line.

It also amplifies their message as we are simply reiterating what they are saying — serving ironically as the messenger to those voters who agree with what they are doing.

4. Use the Tory framing device to undermine them rather than running scared of it

The response to the Budget was feeble, as Nick Tyrone points out in this excellent blog.

Osborne is the political equivalent of a magpie — stealing opposition policies that aren’t screwed on to a tightly fixed ‘frame’.

Framing is important and it is crucial that as part of #LibDemFightback we Start with Why.

As Drew Westen points out,

‘when you find yourself afraid to move for fear of being branded, you know you’ve bought into the other side’s frame’.

To counter this you need to highlight the contradiction between what is being said and what the actual outcome will be. In short, the best course of action is to shatter the frame — not buy into it.

Osborne started with:

This is a Budget that puts security first.
It’s a Budget that recognises the hard work and sacrifice of the British people over the past 5 years and says: we will not put that at risk, we have a job to do and we’re here to get on with it.
This will be a Budget for working people.
A Budget that sets out a plan for Britain for the next 5 years to keep moving us from a low wage, high tax, high welfare economy; to the higher wage, lower tax, lower welfare country we intend to create.

Our response should have focussed relentlessly on how the policy announcements produce the exact opposite effect. Instead, we got something that falls short of the mark.

5. Entrench a liberal ‘frame’ into the political debate

Speaking of frames, where is ours? The analysis in a plethora of Lib Dem blogs since the election has all reached the same conclusion — we didn’t talk about our vision enough.

So how do we go about changing that?

Not by running the same tone deaf campaigns that got us slaughtered in the first place.

Our current campaigns sound like great ‘policy’ ideas ‘Votes at 16’ and ‘Protect Human Rights’. But without explaining why, as liberals, those things matter — through our own clear and compelling frame, we’ll never stir the emotional response needed for change.

Without that they’ll be, what they currently are, ‘nice’ things on a golden diamond.

By the way, the other parties now know how to fix potholes too.

I don’t pretend to have all the answers, but I do know we can’t go on the same way we always have.

One clap, two clap, three clap, forty?

By clapping more or less, you can signal to us which stories really stand out.