Tuesday, October 9, 2007

Coffee is for wooses

Andy Mayer has written very sanely about the current outlook for the LibDems. As usual, Iain Dale is telling us to arouse ourselves and infuse the fragance of our expresso. If he had his way, we would be dying of caffeine overdose, the number of times he tells us to "smell the coffee".

Andy rather unfairly compares the position of past LibDem leaders at election time and Ming now. We should remember that Ming has another 18 months to go to be at the same stage as those other leaders. All right, he would have been behind in the popularity stakes (compared to Kennedy, Ashdown etc at the general elections which they faced) had there been an election this autumn. But then, in retrospect the idea of the first November British general election for 72 years is so barking mad as to be a disastrously insecure platform for hypothetical theories.

I don't think we should apologise for our conference majoring on green issues. It remains a scandal that the Tories and Labour are not properly engaging with the public on the radical steps which need to be taken in that policy sphere. I am absolutely delighted that Cameron has vacated the green policy space - or taken his tanks off our lawn, if you prefer.

But Andy's analysis is refreshing in that it centres on policy direction. Strangely enough, I do believe we have attractive broad-based policies which don't just appeal to our core vote. I think this is the first time we have been able to say that for many a year. The problem, as always, is publicising them to the general public.

Take inheritance tax. Three weeks ago, we announced a threshold change to £500,000 which sorts out the problem, and in a far fairer way that the Tory proposal, as Andy notes.

Take income tax. A four pence cut in the basic rate of income tax!! This is a staggering proposal coming from any political party, let alone the Liberal Democrats! I feel like repeating it everyday with lots of !!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

If only we could get just those two policies across to most people, we would be several steps ahead in the game.

Having said all that, I refuse to be panicked by Pravdale and Conservative Home. It behoves me to repeat my mantra: "I remember when our MPs could fit in a London cab and when we had an asterisk against our poll rating because it was within the margin of error (that was when Paddy was leading the party)".

If I was a pathetic woos I would have left the party and joined some other party donkeys' years ago. As David Rendel once said "No one joins the LibDems as a career move". We LibDems are made of stern stuff, possibly because we actually believe in something.

Update - on reflection I think Free Care for the Elderly should replace Inheritance Tax in that couplet. Inheritance Tax as an issue is likely to be neutralised this afternoon. And, as Ed Davey rightly said on "Any Questions" last week, Free care for the Elderly would benefit vastly more people than the Inheritance Tax change.

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