How the Lib Dems can still win elections in the future
I know that lots of people are predicting that the Liberal Democrats will get wiped out in the next elections as a result of their betrayals over fees etc.
But yesterday they managed to secure a massive win in a local by-election in Fareham, Hampshire, securing a swing of 27% from the Tories. I was interested in how they did it, and what this might tell us about their future strategy.
Their candidate, Nick Gregory, stood for election last year as a Tory. After losing to the Liberal Democrats in that election, he decided to become a Liberal Democrat. The key policy issue in Gregory's campaign was his opposition to the proposals to build 7,000 eco homes in the area. As he put it, "a Conservative vote is a vote for their plans to build 7000 more houses here".
The new homes, expected to be built between 2016 and 2026, will be subject to the toughest environmental standards ever set for new developments in the country. They must be specially designed so that they need less energy to run. It makes sense that the Liberal Democrats, with their commitment to solving the housing crisis and tackling climate change would, erm, campaign against them.
So any Liberal Democrats feeling worried about the future after their decision to go into Coalition with the Tories and break their promises should rest a little easier. They might have lost support amongst some people who are concerned with trivial matters such as education or the welfare state.
But they can still win elections when they get someone who used to be a Tory to be their candidate and attack the Tories from the right on housing and climate change.