Coffee House

Clegg and Farage’s real mission: getting their voters to turn up

27 March 2014

‘You guys always love the zero sum game, you know, politics as Premier League football,’ Paddy Ashdown said this morning when asked whether he accepted whether his leader had lost last night’s LBC debate on Europe. This sounded ridiculous initially: of course politics is like Premier League football. The party that comes second in a general election doesn’t skip away arguing that it was the taking part that counts, it retreats to lick its wounds.


But that assumes that for the Lib Dems and Ukip there was one specific group of voters who they were trying to persuade last night. Nick Clegg and Nigel Farage may have looks straight into the same camera and appeared to be addressing the same audience, but they were aiming for different listeners. That’s why the Lib Dems were happy with the 36 per cent that they polled last night. It demonstrates to them that there is some kind of constituency that likes to hear a politician being honest that he likes Europe and that he is pessimistic about Britain’s chances outside the EU.

Last night’s result also demonstrates that even if you appear a bit ratty and sweaty at times, as Nigel Farage did to those who are not instinctively his supporters, you can still win the debate, because there is a bigger constituency of voters who do agree with what you are saying, even if you’re not as polished as Nick Clegg. Thus the first of the two debates went very well for both parties: both were shoring up their own bases and motivating them to vote in elections with typically very low turnout. The real mission for these party leaders is to get their voters to go to the polling booths, not bother about people who haven’t made up their minds.

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  • Hexhamgeezer

    Ms H, did you write that headline? Whoever did is either a moron who knows Jack-sh!t about politics, or someone who was happy to wittingly churn out sub-Cameronian c)ck.

    UKIP will have absolutely no problem in bringing out the voters. The only question is the amount of floaters we can enthuse.. UKIP voters will turn out in spades. We are working on the rest and your mate dave is struggling to incentivise existing Tories.

  • Makroon

    The media love all of these clever-clever calculations.
    I think the motives are much more straight forward – Clegg thought he could make Farage look silly, and Farage is not a man to duck a challenge and a chance to show off (as he more-or-less admitted).
    We know Clegg is pantsdown’s protege, he is just waffling (as usual) to protect his man.

  • saffrin

    Clegg will have a problem for sure, the lying two faced backstabbing bas….d, Nigel Farage’s support will be hammering on the door at 6am busting a gut to get in.

  • AnotherDave

    The LDs poll numbers have barely moved since late 2010. I don’t think Mr Clegg’s appearance in these debates is going to change that. Swing voters, for what ever reason, do not appear to be considering voting LD.

    I’m expecting the LDs vote share in this year’s local elections, and EU Parliament elections to be lower than last year.

  • Tom Tom

    Sheffield Hallam was turning them away in 2010 so many flocked to vote for Nick……

    • Wessex Man

      not now though.

  • Smithersjones2013

    Clegg and Farage’s real mission: getting their voters to turn up
    Yet more air headed bimbonic factually incorrect analysis from Hardman.

    1) Poll after poll indicates that UKIP voters are the group who are most likely to vote of all the parties supporters. Farage and UKIP’s main task is to get their message put to as many people as possible, Attaining equal status as a party to the three establishments parties in election campaigns (as they have for the Euros) must be their primary goal. Participating and winning these debates serves such a purpose.

    Thus the first of the two debates went very well for both parties: both
    were shoring up their own bases and motivating them to vote in elections
    with typically very low turnout.

    The Euro election polls other than in 1999 have a turnout that is in the region of 30%-40% which is similar to other elections in England except for Westminster / General election turnouts and the dismal PCC turnout. If turnout for the Euros is poor it is only a reflection of the damage done to democracy by the establishment parties.

    If you want ‘very low turnout’ try the disastrous PCC elections and the equally pathetic Manchester Central by-election both of which came in with a humiliatingly low 18% turnout.

  • HookesLaw

    Its all about free publicity for parties with no money. Not to mention Radio Stations.

    • Two Bob

      You mean parties with vested interest donors. Unions & developers = 2 sides of the same rotten coin.

    • Wessex Man

      Strange, I thought it was all about two party leaders willing to stand up and face the nation discussing the future of the nation and the future of the EU.

      The fact that the leaders of the Tory and Labour Parties were to frightened to attend shows what a couple of cowards they are.

  • Machina22

    Still spinning for Clegg I see. The Speccy really has gone native.

    • MirthaTidville

      Their fear of Farage is now holding them to ransom..

    • Mr Creosote

      It’s because they’re all so young and idealistic – bless ’em.

  • david trant

    You honestly think that Farage will have trouble getting his lot to the polls, you’ve obviously never met or talked to any of them. Never underestimate the power of the politics of resentment: they can’t wait.

    • Wessex Man

      Nothing whatever to do with resentment, I just what British Laws for British people, not EU, I don’t want open borders and the most densely packed country in Europe completely built over. Our Schools, Hospitals, Social Services and Housing Associations are swamped and not able to cope. The EU blundering attempts to ever expand will end in conflict and I would rather that UK wasn’t involved.

      That’s why I will happily wait to vote in May.

    • MirthaTidville

      For the benefit of eliminating doubt, this is one election I normally would not bother with, this time around UKIP will have no problems getting me to the polling booth.Crawling if necessary

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