Wednesday 14 April 2010

Liberal Democrat Damp Squib

The Liberal Democrat campaign has so far been something of a damp squib, I suspect because those organising it are too much immersed in what passes for politics and the "Westminster Bubble" and too little in the thoughts, feelings and aspirations of those of us outside it.

In February Liberal Democrat News published a letter from me which claimed that "what passes for politics at Prime Minister's questions and similar encounters is a huge turn-off for the ordinary voter." and made the following three suggestions for the Campaign:

  • no ill thought out gimmicks
  • patient exposition of our tried and tested policies
  • gentle but firm exposure of the hypocrisies of the other two main parties
Clearly those who are organising our campaign either don't read Liberal Democrat News, or they have discounted this advice. We have had, to give but two examples, a ludicrous attempt to re-create a "Tory Tax Bombshell" scare with Nick Clegg looking foolish in front to a blown up picture of a bomb claiming that the Tories will raise VAT to 20% (which they may very well do, given half the chance, but how does he know?), and that if either of the other two parties wield the "cuts" axe with an over-all majority there may be "Greek style" riots in the streets. Again that may very well be true, but how does he know, and is scaremongering and perhaps even the implicit approval of illegal action the way to win votes?

We Liberal Democrats have a good story to tell, of policies for which we've campaigned for decades rather than discovered in a last-minute conversion:
  • genuine proportional representation by STV;
  • protection of civil liberties through opposition to prolonged detention without trial and the imposition of compulsory identity cards;
  • fairer taxation and a switch to greener taxes;
  • reform and support of international institutions and opposition to the illegal invasion of Iraq;
  • a defence policy geared to current circumstances and the discontinuation of Trident;
  • empowerment of people at the lowest possible level by devolution to the nations and regions and to local government.

And what, might I ask, has happened to our constant advocacy of support for and positive engagement in the European Union.

So please, Nick Clegg, spokespersons and PPCs, sing out strongly form our positive song-sheet and leave the gimmick and petty bickering to the other two.

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