I thought that one of the best bits of commentary coming out of the Lib Dem conference last week was this article by Matthew Parris in the Times. It suggests that the very real possibility of a balanced (hung) parliament being the outcome after the next general election could be an advantage to the Lib Dems during the campaign.
Conventional wisdom has it that while the actual result of a balanced parliament after the next election would be a huge opportunity for the Liberal Democrats, discussion of the possibility during the election campaign could potentially be the kiss of death for the Party.
However, Parris’s argument, with which I broadly agree, is to turn that conventional wisdom on its head. During the election campaign the Lib Dems could make the argument that because there is a real possibility that the Party could hold the balance after the next election voters should give their support to us to make sure that we will be able to use that position to moderate the extremes of the other two main parties. He points out that for many voters this could be a very attractive argument. The real dangers for the Party lie in actually trying to make that approach work in practice after the election.
Where I disagree is that Parris frames this argument from a very conventional left/centre/right perspective. I think it is more complicated than that. However, the idea that the Lib Dems should be open to the idea of seeing talk of hung parliaments as a potential opportunity instead of automatically seeing it as a threat is something I think should be seriously considered.
I think I will return to this topic in the future.
This content was originally posted on my old Process Guy blog.