Sour Grapes & Slights of Hand
Today, the BBC is reporting that some in the Liberal Democrats party in the UK are upset with their electoral performance, and are looking for revenge. To me, it’s just a matter of sour grapes by some and a matter of deft slight of hand tricks by others.
This spring, the Lib Dems scored their best showing in over 80 years, 23% of the vote and 62 seats (compared with 18% and 52 seats last time). Just 13 years ago, they scores about 19% of the vote and 20 seats. They are at the height of their power, especially with a moderate Labour government that can’t rely on its left-wing backbenchers to secure a majority.
The sour grapes among the LDs were expecting an unrealistic 2nd place showing ahead of the Tories, dozens more in seats, and 1/3 of the popular vote. This is incredibly unrealistic especially for a party that has done little until late to expand beyond its reach among southern England suburbs and Welsh/Scottish rural areas.
The slight of hand folks are pretending to be angry so they can force a reexamining of the LD position on taxes, among other issues. By reexamining those positions, the LDs can still appeal to disenchanted Labor voters as they did in the 2005 campaign while doing what they can to lure liberal Tory voters, as they were so successful in doing in the past (particularly in byelections).
Charles Kennedy shouldn’t be worried about the sour grapes in his party. Mr. Howard and Mr. Blair should be worried about those making a slight of hand trick – as they are helping the LDs placate the sour grapes by putting their party within reach of success.
Too bad not everyone is noticing what’s going on.