Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Saturday, 5 May 2012


My thoughts on the thorny issue of the leadership are fairly simple.  I still think Nick's doing okay and should continue to be supported.  Before they come for me, here's why.

Nick should still be leader of the Lib Dems in 2015 and the increasing calls for him to resign just miss the point entirely.  Seriously, if Lembit says something you've got to be reassured if you disagree.  The phrase 'lost the plot' just doesn't do his present state of mind justice.  However, others with greater control of their faculties have said this, so it needs to be considered.

Nick should be supported because he gets it.  The Tories are working with us but it is rather like sharing a pit with a python.  You might help each other to get out but never take your eyes off it.  They will attack us as soon as they think the time is right and it seems to me that Nick recognises this.  He appears to know that this is a long game and he is playing it cool.

Come 2015, those vipers (I know, different snake) will strike and we need to react and hit them back hard.  If we can show that we tamed them for 5 years and did the good stuff like cutting taxes we might just do well.  If.

What could a Tim Farron or Simon Hughes bring to the party beyond further antagonising the Tory right.  Great guys both but not right for the job at the moment.  And any calls for the Blessed Vince to step up to the plate are likely to fall on deaf ears as Vince is clearly unhappy in the coalition and he just doesn't seem to want the leader's job.

All those calling for Nick's head need to answer two simple questions: who would replace him and where would they take us?

I've been on the doorsteps in the past few weeks and I've had the arguments.  The strange thing was that most people were willing to listen. They may not agree but I got a good impression that we can still connect.  We won two seats here and we held and achieved good results in many areas around the south.  That is small comfort for other areas but it shows that our arguments still work.

We should not ditch the pilot before we are sure he's the problem and that there is a replacement pilot eating peanuts in business class.  At the moment I'm not sure there is.

Debrief - or at least the start of it...

Well, even the shouting is over so a moment of reflection is probably called for.  In West Oxfordshire we did okay.  We won the ultra blue seat of Woodstock and we held Charlbury and Finstock, increasing the majority to one which can reasonably be described as 'thumping'. Elsewhere in the district the Labour Party did well, gaining 3 seats.  It's always good to see the Tories get a kicking but I still hold to the 'plague on both their houses' line.

The Greens also stood across the area, did b*gger all but took votes which could be ours - the only party which actually does stuff to address environmental concerns rather than just recycling our Guardians in a really concerned manner.  If you want to really stuff the environment, vote Green.  That way you guarantee the Tories get elected.

Politics is a drug which those of us who are hooked cannot shake off so I enjoyed the campaign, from the endless trudging up drives to deliver another bit of paper to the argument with the man putting his daughter to bed at 9.45pm as I begged him to vote.  Needless to say, he didn't.  Maybe these people frighten their children once a year by telling them to go to sleep or the nasty Lib Dem Knocker Upper will get them.

Every year I do this stuff and every year I end with the thought that we must do something better to get, retain and increase our vote.  Looking at mighty places like Eastleigh and Portsmouth, it is clearly possible and we perhaps need to be a little less prim in Oxfordshire and really go for the jugular.  After all, there is little in life which is certain but the prospect of a wounded and spiteful David Cameron standing on a very unpopular ticket in 2015 hereabouts is a good bet.

Labour will have donned white robes and fake wings by then so I suppose our job is to damn Dave for everything he has failed to do - like sacking his culture secretary, promoting just one or two people who didn't go to school with him to the Cabinet, and anything on Lords reform - while simultaneously reminding people about 'New' Labour and its record on sleaze, warmongering and leaping headfirst into bed with Australian media barons.  Fingers crossed Ed the Supply Leader will still be in charge of Labour in 2015.

 As for our leader, well more on that next.

Rather oddly, I am reassured by the election results.  They proved that we are taking on the Tories.  They also confirm that we are the challengers to Labour.  Yes, the fightback will be hard but this is grown up, national politics and the transition is going to hurt but we might just find in a few years that we are in a significantly better position as far as Westminster politics is concerned, at which point the pain of the current period could seem worthwhile.

With apologies to anyone who fought and lost yesterday.  I share your pain and I am not making light of it.