I have just finished watching Question Time on BBC1, during which a number of members of the audience criticised the major parties for their focus on personalities and their lack of policies. May I beg to differ on behalf of the Lib Dems.
Being a Liberal Democrat PPC is an onerous task primarily because as a party we are so stuffed to the gills with policies on every subject that it is a daily task simply to keep up with them.
Not only are we the only party with a very clear idea about what caused the credit crunch, what the consequences of it have been and what we need to do to address these consequences (more later but for the moment Google 'Vince Cable' for more information), we are also the only party to have outlined plans for a 'green road' out of recession, a sensible idea to invest in green tech not because the planet needs us to but to improve Britain's economy and provide more people with long term jobs. We have policies on Europe (we are for it but highly critical of how it is run), policies on education (more money for children, which seems sensible) and lower taxes for everyone (criticise that, if you please).
Given this cornucopia of ideas on just about everything, I had to smile today when I received a message advising me about our policy towards pit ponies. Lib Dems wish to see protection for pit ponies included in the Animal Welfare Act, which they are currently excluded from. This is clearly a sensible, practical policy and one I would not hesitate to support.
However, practically speaking I am not aware that this is a major issue for the residents of Henley constituency. It also represents an additional policy which I - and my 645 colleagues around the country - must commit to memory. I shall have to resist a loud cheer if I am asked about this when meeting residents in South East Oxfordshire as I will be delighted to confirm that the Liberal Democrats - alone among the three main parties - do indeed have a policy on this and everything.
NB: for the avoidance of any doubt may I note that I am not in any way seeking to diminish the importance of the welfare of pit ponies. Rather I am making light of the fact that the Labour and Conservative Parties lack credible polices in a wide range of areas while the Lib Dems are very favourably endowed with proposals in all areas.
All parties are not the same.