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Cosying up

Betsan Powys | 13:38 UK time, Friday, 9 April 2010

As Nick Clegg flew to Cardiff (Ieuan Air might be grounded ... other leaders are still airborne) to launch the Liberal Democrat campaign in Wales, Lord Adonis was sticking to election groundwork - wooing Lib Dem voters.. The differences between Labour and the Lib Dems, he says, are "dwarfed by our common antipathy" of the Tories.

A little early to start openly canvassing the votes of other parties' supporters say political commentators.

But think back to February.

Peter Hain made an open play for Lib Dem votes back then.

"If we ­recognise our common ground, a new progressive era of political reform based on Britain's natural anti-Tory majority can take charge" he wrote.

By the next day, on his way to Labour's conference in Swansea, Mr Hain had honed his message for voters on this side of Offa's Dyke. He was now appealing to all non dyed in the wool Tory supporters to vote Labour. Plaid, Greens, any voter who doesn't want to see David Cameron in Number Ten should vote Labour.

"I am not asking them to sign up to every dot and comma of Labour's policies and proposals, still less to renounce their principles.

"But the truth is that this coming election will be one where we have to take sides."

Those of you who've been concentrating on talk of tactics for a while longer may remember David Cameron suggesting in his New Year's message that there was barely a "cigarette paper" dividing his party and Mr Clegg's on many issues.

The Lib Dem response? If there is a Labour-Lib Dem "identity of interest" Mr Clegg says he doesn´t see it. People should "vote with their hearts", not as per the direction of the Conservative leader or of two Labour politicians.

Bear in mind that the two Labour politicians offering advice to voters have some experience of switching allegiance themselves - the ex-Social Democrat Lord Adonis and the ex-young Liberal Peter Hain so much so that his fellow Labour MP, Paul Flynn, once compared him to Star Trek's Odo the shape-shifter.

Up in Cardiff North, they're not impressed.

Fenella Bowden, a Lib Dem councillor for the Heath was campaigning in Cardiff North when a colleague asked for her view. Her front garden has a Lib Dem sign - next door and opposite have Tory signs. How about jumping over the metaphorical fence and voting Labour in order to keep her neighbours' preferred candidate out?

"It's a personal vote" she said, "a personal decision. One has to leave it to their own conscience as to how they vote."

But what if she was in a different constituency, say Newport East or Swansea West where the Lib Dems were in with a chance? Would she then be arguing for tactical voting?

Radio silence for no more than a split second.

" Well I'm not in that situtation."


The man from Radio 5 Live was impressed by such "remarkable honesty".


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