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More evidence that Downing Street wants the Liberal Democrats to win in Oldham East and Saddleworth

by Paul Goodman

The classic bar chart election tactic is familiar.  It shows your own party neck and neck with another, and yet another - the one whose vote you want to squeeze - third, together with the slogan "It's a two horse race - X can't win here".

In the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election, one would expect X - from the Party's point of view - to be the Liberal Democrats, since Labour looks to come either first or second.  Conservative leaflets and statements would therefore say: "It's a two horse race - the Liberal Democrats can't win here." (Using current national opinion polls to illustrate the point.)

Odd, then, that Sayeeda Warsi said on the Party's website in the wake of her campaign visit yesterday -

With so many people here on the ground listening to constituents, this campaign is certainly a three horse race."

Just in case readers don't get the message, Michael Fallon repeats it -

This is a definitely a three horse race and with just two weeks left it is all to play for.”

Curious, again.  Perhaps I'm missing a campaigning trick, or am short of imagination, but the simplest explanation is that CCHQ's trying to suggest that the vote of the third party is strong.  The third party being, of course...the Liberal Democrats.

Such a decision would be above CCHQ's pay grade.  It could only come from Downing Street which, we read, wants the Liberal Democrats to win - and the Party to lose - in order to prop up the Coalition.  Jonathan grasped the point early in detail, as did senior backbenchers even earlier.

Call me a cynic, but the simplest explanation, in this case, strikes me also as being the best.


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