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The Lib Dems’ differentiation strategy, pictured

17 January 2012

12:54 PM

17 January 2012

12:54 PM

As revealed in Rachel Sylvester’s Times column (£) today:

“Richard Reeves, Mr Clegg’s political adviser, draws a graph that plots ‘Government unity and strength’ against ‘Lib Dem identity’ as two lines, one going
down and the other up, between 2010 and 2015. The lines cross in 2012. ‘Every minute of every day between now and the election we will turn up the dial on differentiation,’ says a

So I’ve pasted my own version of the Reeves graph above to, erm, get it on paper, as it were.

Of course, it’s not surprising that the Lib Dems — or, indeed, the Tories — would do more to distinguish themselves as the election approaches. But it’s still intriguing that Clegg’s
chief aide regards this year as the one when party identity starts to outweigh government unity. Given what’s gone before, some Tories will bristle at the thought of more and more Lib Dem
assertiveness to come.

And it also makes you wonder how the Lib Dems hope to sustain three-years of ever-increasing differentiation alongside the restrictions of coalition government. In that regard, Clegg’s speech yesterday may offer a clue to one way they’ll go about it: agreement about the
policies to tackle the problems, but (implied) difference in their eagerness to do so.

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