Monday, 16 January 2012


Some brief examples of how the Lib Dems are achieving stuff in government:

Nick Clegg wants to see more employee ownership of businesses to make them fairer and to encourage workers to commit to them. It's an obvious call which only a Tory could object to so Nick will have a job on his hands getting it past George Osborne. I love the comment from Labour's Chuka Umunna that this represents Nick Clegg following Labour's lead. That might have been relevant if Labour had done anything to encourage employee ownership over those 13 wasted years.

Lib Dems are also seeking a commitment for a 'mansion tax', first mooted by Vince Cable and damned by everyone else but, like the prophet he is, now being embraced by more and more people. It won't be in the budget but Osborne has apparently acquiesced to a review. Only a madman would bet against Vince getting his way eventually.

Lib Dems are seeking to get the government to introduce a land value tax, a system which is infinitely fairer than the hated Tory Council Tax as it reflects the provision of local services far more. Liberals have been calling for this fairer tax since the Ark so it would be nice to see it make progress. Unfortunately that would mean the Tories admitting that the Council Tax is a disaster which penalises those on low incomes the most and Labour admitting that they did stuff all to change Council Tax over 13 wasted years in office.

Finally, the debate on Scottish independence is still looking for a champion on the unionist side. In Menzies Campbell and Charles Kennedy we have two excellent candidates with a national profile few other politicians have. Some have suggested Gordon Brown - seriously! - while truculent Alastair Darling is also in the frame. The counterpoint to Pandora Salmond needs to be someone who is confident, competent and able to speak to voters in Scotland and Charles Kennedy has all those abilities.

That pretty much encapsulates why the Lib Dems are essential for politics in this country. We are the only party which says and does stuff which is important and which hasn't just floated up from the musings of a focus group or interest group of rich donors.

We opposed the introduction of student fees, which both Labour and the Tories supported. If a Tory government had been elected the chances are that the cap on fees would have been completely removed. We performed an embarrassing u-turn on the issue but in the process we have engineered the introduction of a graduate tax, the least worst option. One day that will be recognised. Hopefully that day will come before 2015...

The truth about our success is out there. Regrettably it is hidden by a European crisis and the slow demise of Labour's latest leader. Without an opposition, Britain needs the Lib Dems more than ever.

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