5 October 2011

Why Tim Farron was wrong and the Tories were right

So then that's the end of the conference season for another year.

And for this observer the most striking thing (apart from the irrelevence of Labour) was the contrast between the views expressed about the respective coalition partners at the Conservative and Lib Dem conferences.

The Lib Dem conference - led by party president Tim Farron - indulged in a multiplicity of often cheap attacks on their Conservative partners. In contrast this week's Conservative conference attacks on the Lib Dems were limited (and mainly on the fringe) and Conservative spokespeople dealt with the Lib Dems in a professional and respectful manner.

For this observer watching on the TV, the Conservatives came across the much better for it.

Earlier this year I carried out some market research for the Lib Dems. And people's views on the coalition were clear. They understood its necessity and liked the idea of political parties working together in difficult times in the public interest. Their concerns about the Lib Dems role in government were about practical achievements - not the rhetoric. The problem was defining distinctly liberal things that Clegg and the party could call their own.

Sadly, multifarious attacks on the Tories at party conference, talking about 'muscular liberalism', or standing up for 'alarm clock Britain' are all worthless (and often counter productive) if the party cannot annunciate a clear agenda for government and evidence its influence in public policy outcomes.

That is the challenge for the Lib Dems - not more easy laughs at their coalition partners expense.

1 comment:

  1. Amazing. The party's vote is in meltdown and Market Research shows "people liked the idea of political parties working together in difficult times."

    Did they vote for us in Scotland? NO
    Did they vote for us in the South West? Less than they did.
    Did they vote for us in the South East? Much less in key seats.
    The Midlands and the North? Massive losses.
    Wales? Not as bad as the rest.

    Keep taking the market research Nick, and keep being nice to the Conservatives. You may need them to be nice to you in three years time.