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Today’s Grauniad carries an article by LibDem leader Nick Clegg. After I finished reading it I thought that its probably the worst possible piece to try to reinvigorate his party’s fortunes. I never thought Clegg would be a good party leader, I liked Huhne more both times he’s run for leader. But let me explain why I think the article is bad for the Liberals:

First of all, whoever is writing the piece for Clegg should rethink sentences like ‘more socially mobile society’. I know the LibDems, and Tories, obsession with the potential of society, but surely they don’t need to repeat themselves that often. Also, while the speechwriter is at it, surely using unchecked facts like ‘possibly lower than the US’ without evidence is rather demagogic.

And secondly, and this is by far more important, Clegg is to Cameron what the LibDems are to the Tories, a bad copy of the latter, at least to the eyes of the electorate. In political marketing is important that a brand reflects the party’s outlook. One of the key attributes of any political brand is uniqueness, why your party stands out as the best choice for my vote. Clegg’s article in the Grauniad carries the same message as Cameron’s speeches. Have a look here and here. Same message, the difference? Cameron delivers it better because he’s got the Tory media machine behind him: his papers, bloggers, spinners and obviously a greater electoral base that makes him sound more genuine. LibDems for a while had an electoral niche by being Labour minus the Iraq war and plus the environment and civil liberties. Moreover they had a charismatic leader in Charles Kennedy who was different from both Blair and Howard. Clegg simply reinforces the idea that the LibDems were looking for their own Cameron and now that the Tories have stolen some of their ideas the similarities are even more damaging to their brand.

If you changed Clegg’s picture for one of Cameron in the article I would haven’t noticed the change. That’s what is wrong with the LibDems, no uniqueness, and today’s article simply reinforces that perception. The niche is lost and the LibDems are going to be squeezed in the next general election.

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