The Tory plan to undermine and discredit Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems has been an extraordinary success. Make no mistake there can’t not have been a plan. While the ink was still wet on the coalition agreement and Nick and Vince were settling into their chauffeur driven Jaguars, nasty men in the ‘nasty party’ were already planning the downfall of Clegg minimus.
Such has been the success of the plan that Dave has made the artful dodger look like a rank amateur. It’s poor old Nick, not Dave who has been taking the blame for the pain the coalition has seen fit to visit upon us. He not only attracted opprobrium for the rise in tuition fees, he’s become the figure in the coalition people want to hate – and his party? They’re seen by many as a group of feckless toadies who took the Tory shilling.
So when it comes to the vote on AV it’s no wonder that the ‘Yes’ camp are finding things a bit of a struggle. ‘Yes to AV’ is being identified with Clegg. This means that for the first time Dave is within a gnat’s whisker from winning something. A win for the ‘No’ campaign would turn Dave into a winner. A ‘Yes’ win on the other hand, would confirm him as a serial loser. Little wonder that the Tories have been bankrolling the ‘No’ campaign – although bizarrely they stand to do better than they think under AV.
However, the master stroke of the Tory plan, and the genius of those who put it together, is that it takes account of one crucial fact – the British electorate seldom votes ‘for’ anything. Instead it revels in voting against something or punishing someone. The cunning plan has delivered both.
With just over a week to go before the ballot, the ‘Yes’ campaign needs to convince people to concentrate on the issue, not on the personality or the party identified with the campaign. They have a few days to make voters realise that a ‘No’ vote is a vote for Dave. Although, perhaps people want to give Dave the thumbs up?