Tuesday, 10 August 2010


According to the newspapers the LDs' poll rating is slipping as more people say they do not know what we stand for any more. Well, if you've been an activist for a few years you'll know that this is a standard refrain and its not really anything to worry about.

Well, we're part of a government which is making bigger cuts to the public sector that any since the 1930s. We're in bed with our one time mortal enemies (some of us are still keeping a revolver under the pillow...) and we seem to be jettisoning our principles. Its therefore hardly surprising that we're not exactly racing in the polls.

There is no question that the coalition has been a shock for our traditional supporters - including me - but there is also no doubt that by signing up to this agreement the Lib Dems are actually achieving stuff, like a referendum on voting reform, which we have been going on about for decades. We have a commitment to fixed term parliaments, a promised reform of party funding, a commitment to reduce the number of MPs in Parliament and a long delayed - by Labour - reform of the House of Lords. We campaigned on all these issues at the election and they are now being introduced. Tell me, where's the beef?

We have got the tax threshold raised, as we promised at the election. We have a commitment to restore the link between pensions and earnings, which the Labour Party failed to do for 13 years. We have a commitment to greater freedoms for teachers and health workers to do their jobs, fair compensation for Equitable Life pensioners.

We have Vince Cable as Business Secretary, Chris Huhne as Energy Secretary, Norman Baker responsible for Transport. People who know what they are doing - LD people - are in the right jobs. We must give them time to effect real change.

The 'but' is that they are part of a coalition, which requires compromise. I don't suppose that Chris Huhne ever imagined that he would be declaring his support for nuclear power in Parliament but he is a pragmatist and he knows that if he wants to deliver LD changes to our energy policy he must compromise. That's the real world of politics which we must get used to.

The key for us is that in five years' time, assuming that the date for the next election is honoured, we will be able to enter an election telling voters that Lib Dems have been in government, we have demonstrated our ability to work with other parties, we have demonstrated that we can actually get things done and that for the first time in almost a century a Lib Dem vote can be clearly, unequivocally demonstrated to be anything but a wasted vote.

Courage, mes braves. Its a long road, a rocky one but the destination might just be worth it.

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