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.