I’m a lover of Lib Dem campaign leaflets. For years they have had a few consistent themes.
One is the clipboard, the idea is that if you have a clipboard you are obviously (a) important, (b) working and, by extension (c) doing important work. So what better way to show how busy you are than to always have a clipboard with you. The Glum Councillors website shows a few fine examples from Lewisham and Woking and the James Sandbach, the Putney Lib Dem candidate is clearly a master.
But the classic Lib Dem theme is the ‘winning here/two horse race/can’t win here’ bar chart. These have been mocked and derided over the years since they bear no relation to actual figures, statistics or results – but instead give a misleading impression of Lib Dem chances. So I was amazed to see the Southfields version (where they are in second place and beating Labour) with the health warning: “not to scale”.
I actually did wonder what a to scale graph would look like, so made one, based on the average votes per party in 2006, which were Conservative 2,241, Liberal Democrat 773 and Labour 650. The Lib Dems weren’t that far out, they got the order right, at least.
What will be interesting is to see how those graphs look on 7 May. With an unpopular Labour party nationally it might well be that they will struggle to hold second place in many wards locally.
Back in 2006 candidates from the Lib Dems or Greens managed to insert themselves into the second place group (i.e. 4th to 6th place in 3 member wards) in 8 wards. It’s not beyond the realms of possibility that when it comes to political campaigning – if not council administration – that the real opposition will be coming from those parties rather than Labour.