Dear Labour Party, You’re messing with my head

by Stephen Tall on April 18, 2010

I live in Oxford East, a key Lib Dem target where in 2005 Labour scraped home by just 963 votes.

In the first week of the campaign, Labour plastered their literature with dire warnings that a vote for the Lib Dems would serve only one purpose: to let in the Tories.

Half-truths were deployed to make the point, such as “Nick Clegg is refusing to rule out a back room deal to put the Tories into power.” They could also have said Nick’s refusing to rule out a deal with Labour as well. That wouldn’t fit Labour’s scare tactics, so of course they don’t.

But there’s a thing about scare tactics: they only work if you repeat the same message consistently.

Which makes it ever so slightly odd then for Labour to send me a long, discursive letter from cabinet minister Lord Adonis encouraging me to cast a tactical vote for Labour at this election.

The reason? Well, M’Lord Adonis offers me a mini-history lesson, telling me how the Liberals supported Labour minority governments three times in the last century, as well as joining coalition government in Scotland.

He further points out that “outside wartime, the official Liberal party has never supported a Tory government”. Later in the letter he reports that there is a “fundamental Labour-Liberal Democrat identity of interest”.

Now Lord Adonis is talking rubbish: progressive liberals should vote Lib Dem, naturally.

But why, Labour, are you choosing to send me literature saying that a vote for the Lib Dems will let in the Tories, and also send me literature saying that the Lib Dems have never supported the Tories? You’re just confusing me.

Is this the first example of a political party saying different things in the same part of the country?

* Labour leaflet image courtesy The Straight Choice. I’d aleady recycled mine.