A story that has escaped largely unnoticed this weekend is the creation of the Liberal Democrat party’s sinisterly named ‘anti-Tory attack unit’. Sam Coates has the details in the Times:
‘Nick Clegg has created an anti-Tory attack unit which will focus Liberal Democrat firepower on exposing George Osborne’s “complete inexperience”.
In an interview with The Times, Chris Huhne said that specialist staff will be seconded to the new group, which he will chair and will include all the party’s most effective attack dogs, including Norman Baker, Norman Lamb and Lord Oakeshott.
Mr Huhne, the party’s home affairs spokesman, will lead the party’s attack at their conference, which begins today in Bournemouth. He will highlight polling results by Populus for The Times which show that almost a third of Tory supporters are voting purely to remove Labour rather than out of enthusiasm for the Conservatives.
The Liberal Democrat leadership believes that more can be done to expose what they regard as Tory shallowness and peel off some of their support.’
After Cable’s Straight Talk interview, Huhne will have his work cut out convincing voters that Osborne is any shallower. Of course, all parties seek to undermine opponents, but, as Fraser notes, the key is striking the right balance. The Lib Dem’s strident, highly personalised rhetoric creates the sense that they are simply launching ad hominem attacks, not critical analysis. Clegg’s puerile denunciation of Cameron as “the conman of British politics” is a case in point. Obvious rhetorical smears only injure those that utter them: the Liberal Democrats have not learnt from the failure of their charmingly titled ‘Decapitation strategy’ at the last election.