Friday, May 06, 2011

The Lib Dems are no longer the Alternative Vote

In some ways the tactical mistakes of the Lib Dems, having decided to go into Coalition, could be put down to experience - the lack of it.

The Lib Dem pitch, even before Lib Dems existed, was an alternative.

An alternative to what ? Their answer has been "what have you got?" ( with apologies to James Dean ).

This tactic has been part of their strategy of building up support from opposition.

The problem is they haven't adjusted to being in power.

They have instead continued to behave like the alternative opposition. Reform of the NHS ( needed lets not forget to save peoples lives - lives that will be lost if nothing is done due to rising govt debt and health inflation combined with falling productivity in our soviet era NHS ) ? The Lib Dems are there to say no to the things that might really help. Removing Labour ema bribe ? The Lib Dems insist on the sort of social engineering that only the Labour party really believes in - but helps them posture on TV. Reforming public services to make them more affordable and effective and help people ? The Lib Dems are stamping their little feet to say no - as after all most of their supporters and members have a selfish interest in this issue. ( Individuals on the left become fabulously wealthy in 'public service' and yet mention the word profit and the Guardianista sky falls in. )

They haven't been helped by their lack of discipline. The really damaging attacks on Nick Clegg were only possible after Lib Dem ministers and MPs prostituted themselves to go along with Ed Milibands anyone but Clegg #AV strategy.

What they have lacked is conviction and guts.

They could have campaigned on the things they achieved - for example lifting low paid people out of income tax. But instead the subliminal message has been were there to stop the evil Tories from being too beastly. If you spend your time badmouthing your partner then soon people stop listening to you and start forming an opinion about your character, and its not a good one.

The electorate don't respect this sort of behaviour.

Each time we have Paddy Ashdown, Vince Cable - or most damaging of all Chris Huhne on TV bad mouthing the Conservatives Lib Dem support drops, as the public judge them on character and find them lacking.

There are ideas from the Lib Dems that are worth listening to. There are arguments they could win in the Coalition - even by persuading us Conservatives that they are right ( a strong contrast to the presidential sofa cabinet style of the Labour years that wrecked the country ). But their demand for pounds of flesh and stopping "right wing (ie kitten murdering evil) ideas" is going to earn them nothing other than contempt from all sides.

The Lib Dems need to grow up - and they can start by not throwing all their toys out of the coalition pram over the next few days.

The start today of Paddy Ashdown doing what he does best does not suggest they are capable of this.

Update: Some advice for the Lib Dems from Iain Dale

No comments: