Exclusive: Labour releases spoof of Clegg's "broken promises" video

In the latest stage of its assault on the Lib Dems, the party turns Clegg's 2010 election broadcast against him.
 

Back in 2010, Nick Clegg presented himself as a new breed of politician, committed to ending "broken promises". One memorable Lib Dem election broadcast showed him walking down the banks of the Thames as bits of waste paper (representing the "trail of broken promises" left by previous governments) swirled around him. It was, in retrospect, a remarkable hostage to fortune. With Clegg breaking his own promises on spending cuts, VAT and tuition fees, the film has regularly been recalled as evidence of his political naïveté.

Now, in the latest stage of its assault on the Lib Dems, Labour has released an artful spoof of the infamous broadcast. Entitled "Nick Clegg: The Confession", the film begins in the same fashion as the original before cutting after 30 seconds to Clegg standing with David Cameron on the doorstep of No. 10 (the moment many Lib Dem voters defected to Labour). As Strauss's Blue Danube swells in the background, it turns the Lib Dem leader's words against him:

Fairer taxes: a promise broken. Better schools for everyone: a promise broken. Cleaner politics: a promise broken. Life is still too unfair for too many people; so choose fairness, choose real change that works.

As Clegg again utters "choose", it cuts to the word "Labour". 

It's nicely done, and is further evidence that the party recognises how crucial the Lib Dem defectors are to its election chances. In addition to those seats that Labour hopes to win directly from the party, strategists point out that in 86 of the party's 87 Tory targets, the Lib Dem vote share in 2010 was larger than the Conservative majority. In 37, it was more than twice as large. If a large chunk of Lib Dems move to Labour, as a similar number of Tories move to Ukip, scores of those marginals will fall to Miliband.

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.

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Voters are turning against Brexit but the Lib Dems aren't benefiting

Labour's pro-Brexit stance is not preventing it from winning the support of Remainers. Will that change?

More than a year after the UK voted for Brexit, there has been little sign of buyer's remorse. The public, including around a third of Remainers, are largely of the view that the government should "get on with it".

But as real wages are squeezed (owing to the Brexit-linked inflationary spike) there are tentative signs that the mood is changing. In the event of a second referendum, an Opinium/Observer poll found, 47 per cent would vote Remain, compared to 44 per cent for Leave. Support for a repeat vote is also increasing. Forty one per cent of the public now favour a second referendum (with 48 per cent opposed), compared to 33 per cent last December. 

The Liberal Democrats have made halting Brexit their raison d'être. But as public opinion turns, there is no sign they are benefiting. Since the election, Vince Cable's party has yet to exceed single figures in the polls, scoring a lowly 6 per cent in the Opinium survey (down from 7.4 per cent at the election). 

What accounts for this disparity? After their near-extinction in 2015, the Lib Dems remain either toxic or irrelevant to many voters. Labour, by contrast, despite its pro-Brexit stance, has hoovered up Remainers (55 per cent back Jeremy Corbyn's party). 

In some cases, this reflects voters' other priorities. Remainers are prepared to support Labour on account of the party's stances on austerity, housing and education. Corbyn, meanwhile, is a eurosceptic whose internationalism and pro-migration reputation endear him to EU supporters. Other Remainers rewarded Labour MPs who voted against Article 50, rebelling against the leadership's stance. 

But the trend also partly reflects ignorance. By saying little on the subject of Brexit, Corbyn and Labour allowed Remainers to assume the best. Though there is little evidence that voters will abandon Corbyn over his EU stance, the potential exists.

For this reason, the proposal of a new party will continue to recur. By challenging Labour over Brexit, without the toxicity of Lib Dems, it would sharpen the choice before voters. Though it would not win an election, a new party could force Corbyn to soften his stance on Brexit or to offer a second referendum (mirroring Ukip's effect on the Conservatives).

The greatest problem for the project is that it lacks support where it counts: among MPs. For reasons of tribalism and strategy, there is no emergent "Gang of Four" ready to helm a new party. In the absence of a new convulsion, the UK may turn against Brexit without the anti-Brexiteers benefiting. 

George Eaton is political editor of the New Statesman.