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Jo Swinson - Remainer in Name Only?
The Germans have a word for the pleasure I felt when I read the verdict from pollster YouGov that “Since becoming Lib Dem leader, Jo Swinson’s detractors have grown at a faster rate than her fans” - it’s schadenfreude. It means “pleasure derived by someone from another person's misfortune.
Her performance in the Leaders Question Time programme won’t have changed You Gov’s findings.
In a recent post, I accused Swinson of letting down the Remain cause by colluding with Johnson in giving him a General Election and breaching the opposition alliance which could have forced a People’s Vote.
I said she was putting party before country, hoping to exploit the then 20% poll ratings enjoyed by the Lib Dems.
Imagine my pleasure than to find in the recent New Statesman poll tracker that over the past few weeks the Lib Dems have drifted down by about 5% while Labour has climbed by a similar number.
But, of course, the Labour advance had not matched the Tories who still enjoy a healthy lead.
Schadenfreude is, however, a private vice. In the big picture, my pleasure at Swinson’s misfortune is tempered by the knowledge that the Remain cause needs the Lib Dems to do well in certain places and tactical voters hold the key to whether Johnson can be denied an overall majority.
The Lib Dems have abandoned Swinson’s hubristic claim that she could become Prime Minister and thus be able to revoke article 50. Swinson’s deputy, Ed Davey, now says the most likely outcome of the General Election was a minority Conservative Government and in that the Liberal Democrats would offer Boris Johnson a referendum on his Brexit deal.
It may seem a bit odd to make that offer to Johnson when Labour’s central offer is the People’s vote. We could fall back on the Lib Dem’s record in the Clegg-Cameron government; bedroom taxes, student fees and the rest and declare all-out conflict as some in the party do.
Here, I’m a bit more sympathetic to the Lib Dems. They clearly calculate that in Tory seats that they hope to win being pally with Labour would hurt them. So my message to Swinson in these Tory-LibDem constituencies is Good Luck.
By Don Brind - Former BBC political correspondent