I’m listening to coverage of the Lib Dem conference and the two big things that come across are: Nick Clegg’s apology over the tuition fees pledge and the line that Tories are evil and it’s only the presence of the Lib Dems in government stopping us from delivering our evil agenda.
These two points are closely linked.
Second point first. The “Tories are evil” narrative is short sighted and counter-productive. It is clearly being deployed by senior Lib Dems in an attempt to keep their grass-roots onside, it isn’t working because the more the Tories are painted in such negative terms the more Lib Dem activists will ask why their MPs are in bed with us.
It is a line which doesn’t stand up to even the most superficial examination. As was shown with the Lib Dems plans to screw up the House of Lords, if a policy really is unpopular with the Conservatives we have the numbers to kill it off. Tax cuts for lower paid workers and way of helping bright, but poor, kids get on in education and in the Conservative party’s DNA.
The Tories are evil line, shows a habitual dishonesty in the Lib Dems relationship with their voters and supporters as shown in the tuition fees pledge. You will notice that the apology is for signing the pledge rather than breaking it. Nick Clegg and Vince Cable have both tied themselves up in knots trying to defend their actions, it would be easier for them to tell the truth; they never believed that they would get anywhere near government so felt it was safe to make a whole host of uncosted and undeliverable promises. Now that they are in government they realise that they will never be able to do that again.
If the Lib Dems want this coalition to last until the next election they will need to get out of the habit of lying for short term political gain.