David Blackburn

The high tide of Liberalism?

The high tide of Liberalism?
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Cleggmania may be in remission. A Populus poll for the Times puts the Tories up 4 at 36 percent, the Lib Dems down 3 at 28 percent and Labour down one at 27 percent. Com Res has Labour and the Lib Dems tied on 29 percent with the Tories up 1 to 33 percent, whilst You Gov has the Tories on 33 percent, Labour on 29 percent and Clegg’s party on 28 percent.

A hung parliament remains the probable outcome next Thursday. Anything other than a decisive Tory victory will sustain the Liberal surge, as Clegg would hold the balance of power or a Lib-Lab coalition would seek to inaugurate electoral reform. Despite their laclustre efforts, the Tory campaign is building momentum, which can be ascribed to Cameron’s shirt-sleeve and soapbox offensive rather than increased scrutiny of Lib Dem policy. Their momentum remains tentative but there is still time, just, for it to become decisive.

Few would bank on it though. All depends on tomorrow’s debate, and TV is Clegg’s habitat. In contrast with their leaden opponents, the Lib Dem campaign has been adept and pliable. Clegg will open a second front in the war against the old politics by condemning the unfair tax system. The Lib Dems have the most arresting policy of the campaign: the £10,000 income tax threshold rise. The fact that the measure will not help those who earn less than £7,000, that a £17bn tax cut is not credible in this climate and that members of HMRC have rubbished Cable’s plan to fund it will be immaterial amid Dimbleby’s beauty pageant, and no party is being upfront about cuts anyway.