Hello Deputy Prime Minister. Following on from the post earlier this week, and developments since, I’ve got some questions about your plans for the Liberal Democrat brand. The Labour party has lots of time to reassess its brand, and the Conservative party has worked out that the best way to finally detoxify theirs is to smother yours. So that leaves you with a problem and relatively little time to solve it.
1. How will you differentiate yourselves in practical terms from the Conservatives? Today’s Daily Mail blames the LibDems for the fact that middle income earners are going to have to pay more in tax. On the other hand you don’t seem to be getting much praise for the fact that lower income earners will pay less tax thanks to you. Seems like a threat to you.
2. How will you counter your diminished share of voice? It’s too early to tell how the media will cover policy questions, but it stands to reason that there will be a government spokesperson and a Labour spokesperson. Sometimes that government spokesperson will be you and sometimes it won’t. You won’t get a separate slot at PMQs. Seems like a threat to you.
3. How will you replace your former supporters who are now joining the Labour party? Will you give up on that segment of the market? Seems like a threat to you.
4. How will you change the nature of the debate? Lots of terms are being bandied about – liberal, progressive etc. David Cameron is referring to a ‘liberal Conservative’ (the capitalisation is mine) government, not a Liberal Democrat Conservative or Conservative Liberal Democrat. I was surprised that in your joint press conference you seemed unworried about the words people use. Unless you’re clear about the language, how will you stand out? Seems like a threat to you.
In short – how will your brand avoid the Conservative big squeeze?