Conservative Diary

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Tories may use fear of hung parliament and financial crisis to drive waverers away from Liberal Democrats

I have already covered Ken Clarke's warning that VAT may have to rise to 20%. In his interview with The Sunday Telegraph the former Chancellor also repeated his warning against a hung parliament:

"I trust it is an academic argument – but I do think a hung parliament would be a spectacular disaster. If too many people voted for the Liberals or all these fringe parties, you'd have a government which did not have the authority to take tough and necessary decisions all the time. A hung parliament means a weak government."

Field Mark on BBC If the polls get closer this may become a bigger part of Tory strategy.  Mark Field MP used a ConservativeHome piece last month to warn that "a hung parliament risks tipping sterling and the gilts market into a catastrophic state." In his debut article for ConservativeHome yesterday, as our Contributing Editor, Paul Goodman urged David Cameron to make it clear to every wavering voter that the only way of being sure of getting rid of Labour and installing a new government is to vote Conservative.

Mr Clarke's warning comes as The Sunday Times reports manoeuvring by the Labour Party to position itself as the natural allies of the Liberal Democrats:

"In an interview with The Sunday Times, Lord Adonis [Transport Secretary] went on to claim that there was “no ideological divide” between new Labour and the Lib Dems and suggested they could forge a “progressive coalition”. The remarks will anger Labour traditionalists who regard the third party as an implacable foe. Adonis — himself a former Lib Dem who joined Labour only in 1995 — said: “Nick Clegg is a very capable leader and ideologically I am on broadly the same page as him, as I believe is Gordon Brown."

Mr Cameron's new year message was also interpreted as an attempt to reach out to the Liberal Democrats:

"Let's be honest that whether you're Labour, Conservative or Liberal Democrat, you're motivated by pretty much the same progressive aims: a country that is safer, fairer, greener and where opportunity is more equal.  It's how to achieve these aims that we disagree about - and indeed between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats there is a lot less disagreement than there used to be."

LoveBombing Yesterday the Tory leader offered to include the Liberal Democrat leader in his war cabinet. The Conservative Party's overall 'lovebombing' strategy was attacked by former Tory MP Michael Brown in last week's Independent:

"All the Tory talk is of a "new politics" and recognising "the good intentions of our opponents". But I'm not sure that too many voters will understand the clarity of the Tory message when told that "between the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats there is a lot less disagreement than there used to be". Try telling that to the Conservative candidate in Cheltenham, for whom I spoke a few weeks ago, trying to unseat the Liberal Democrat incumbent in what should be an easy Tory gain. Mark Coote has been working furiously, locally, to point out how hopeless his Liberal Democrat opponents are and how much difference there is between his policies and theirs."

Tim Montgomerie


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