POSSIBLY out for the night at hustings and clearly not so inclined to watch a recording, Glenda Jackson tells the Washington Post that she didn’t see the moment when so many commentators think the shape of this General Election campaign was bent in a completely new direction.
Whether Nick Clegg’s performance, particularly in the first debate at the start of the campaign (you remember, the one in which he excelled at being not as clunky as the other two), is translated into votes and seats on Thursday or not, it obviously changed the narrative of the last few weeks. It gave the Lib Dems a foundation to at least have a shot at scooping a whole heap of new parliamentary seats. Their moment of truth is almost here.
In what is a revealing interview with the WP, Glenda – described as “resplendent” in her trademark red riding hood election coat – says in terms of the impact of TV she “gets it occasionally”.
Having not seen the potentially pivotal moment and the dawn of the overblown Cleggmania that followed just 90 minutes of TV, Glenda suggests all this talk of Lib Dem rival Ed Fordham forcing his way to the front in the Hampstead and Kilburn constituency is a distraction and that her main threat is still the Conservatives. The quote:
You mustn’t believe the fantasies the Liberal Democrats are putting out.
Of course it’s true the Lib Dems, to quote Sinatra, may find themselves riding high in April, shot down in May. There is a chance that their hoped-for share of the vote may not materialise in a final polling day squeeze. Past Labour voters may find a cross for Ed a leap of faith too far when a Conservative government is looming in the backdrop.
But the repeated dismissal of the Lib Dems as a threat in this divided, fluid constituency, when they have clearly polled and campaigned well, benefited from the new boundaries and been given squeaky-tiny odds at the bookmakers is baffling. The more she says it, the more Glenda risks appearing like she is out of tune with the neighbourhoods she has represented for so long.
In her 18 years in Parliament, she has been refreshingly independent, hardly ever shackled by spin and press office orchestration. Now, would be a strange time to take up a negative communications strategy like this.