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Analysis: Will the Lib Dem election pitch cut through?

Jo Swinson
Jo Swinson

A stone’s throw from the Palace of Westminster, you will find the plush HQ for the Institute of Civil Engineers.

The scene for many a London conference or press event, yesterday it played host to the Lib Dem campaign launch.

The grandiose, wood-panelled Smeaton room was the setting, but many TV viewers wouldn’t know it.

With tight shots of a small stage, surrounded by orange and yellow banners, the launch could well have been anywhere.

For those in the room, it was an obvious metaphor for the party’s conflicted identity.

Definitely part of the Westminster establishment, but not entirely comfortable with it.

Take party leader Jo Swinson for example. First elected in 2005, she immediately went onto the front bench as the party’s spokeswoman for culture, then Scotland and finally foreign affairs, before serving as a minister in the Coalition Government after 2010.

Yet, she is desperate to paint herself as anything but another Westminster leader. Her pitch is that she is the fresh new leader that modern Britain needs.

With the bar set so high, it is easy therefore for the Lib Dems to dismiss questions of coalitions, deals and pacts, but as the election battle rumbles on, that question will come around again and again. In the event of another hung Parliament what will the party do?

Although Ms Swinson was not one for building bridges yesterday, it will be interesting to obverse whether that position sustains if the party holds the balance of power on December 13.

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