The other interesting element of the election is the literature I’m being sent. The letter from Gordon Brown is about the sort of policies he would introduce if he were ever to become Prime Minister. It barely mentions the Labour party, and makes no suggestion that this Brown person has ever had power of any kind in the past.
The one from Cameron is about civil liberties – ID cards, ContactPoint, and so on. I’m suspicious enough to think that I am on some Conservative database as being concerned about those things, and my neigbours are getting letters from Cameron about clamping down on immigration or spending more on hospitals, depending on what the database says about them. (Actually, rising immigration is one existing phenomenon that this Gordon Brown chap claims in his letter to be opposed to).
The letter from Clegg is the most interesting. It has nothing to say about policy, but says only that “in many areas” only the Lib Dems can beat Labour. It tries to give the impression that I am in one of those areas, without being so dishonest as to actually say so. (Update: they have since rectified that)
Attempts to guide tactical voters are not restricted to party leaders though. The local Labour leaflet devotes one side to claiming that the Lib Dems can’t win in Luton South, and that therefore only Labour can keep the Tories out, and the local Conservative leaflet agrees fully. They are not identical, though – Labour cite William Hill as an authority, but the Conservatives go with Ladbrokes. (if the leaflets are correct that 14/1 is available against the Lib Dems, I think it’s probably worth a flutter).
Meanwhile local LD blogger Andy Strange is keen to claim that they’re really in with a chance, because Nick Clegg has visited twice…
I’m a bit confused about the Lib Dems claiming on one hand that Labour and Conservative are so alike as to be one “Labservative” party, and on the other that I should not vote Conservative because only the Lib Dems can get Gordon Brown out. If I want the Conservatives, and the Dems’ first claim is correct, then I should prefer Labour, who are like the Conservatives, to the Lib Dems who are claiming to be different.
OK, I’m not really confused. I am perfectly aware that the Lib Dems will say anything at all that they think might get them votes. Not that the others have more moral scruples, but they have slightly more actual history to tie down voters’ idea of what they stand for, and can’t therefore claim as wide a range of different positions simultaneously as the LDs