Friday, May 02, 2008

What Planet Are The BBC On?

Newsnight has declared us to be "treading water". The BBC's website offers this astonishing piece of "analysis":

The Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg has won himself some breathing space. His campaign strategists did an excellent job in lowering expectations.

The mixed bag of some losses, but modest gains, allowed Mr Clegg to declare he had confounded expectations. His party at least seems to have exhausted the habit of ditching its leader when the going gets tough.

This kind of snide commentary when we have just succesfully seen off a two party squeeze (and not just by pushing into Labour heartlands, but by holding our own in historically Tory areas, too) does the BBC's reputation for impartiality no good at all, surely?


mhuntbach said...

Oh, come on. While the BBC don't have a particular habit of being fair to us, on this they have it about right.

The results weren't disastrous for us, true. But they weren't good. With people now obviously completely fed up with Labour we should be piling up votes, but we're not. I don't think the people of this country have any great enthusiasm for the Tories, but they're swinging back to them on the grounds "if you don't like Labour you must vote Tory". We have just not made the big impact that would get them all flocking to us instead. Our success on the ground has been due to dedicated activists exploiting local issues. Good for them, but when are we going to get the real big swing to our party nationally from people who like what we're doing and presenting nationally as a party? You know, the one the Clegg supporters promised us we would get if their hero got in ...

Andy said...

As much as I share your yearning for the "real big swing to our party nationally" that you describe, I think we have to keep in mind that such things are very difficult to engineer.

As you say, the public aren't exactly in love with the Tories. But elections are the governing party's to lose. To vote against the government, the default option is simply to vote for the second party. It takes a great deal to break that pattern, a "big impact" as you say. Really, the only time when a political party has come from third place to become a party of government is the Labour party's rise, and that was off the back of some pretty big changes in society.

Short of hoping for a similar great liberal hope, I think we have to accept that for the moment, we simply have to carry on with the current strategy: Slowly building on our base.

I don't see how petulantly bemoaning the lack of some great swell of public feeling towards Nick Clegg is going to get us anywhere. Did you ever really believe that was what people meant when they said that Nick Clegg was a good communicator and comes across well? That people would be falling in droves at our feet withing a few months?

Back in the real world, these are good results. You can tell, because they are the kind of results that everyone was saying would be "a good day" for us. You know, before we actually achieved it and they switched to judging us on the one statistic they could find that we might be disappointed about.