Why are we not doing better?

Mark Thompson raises this question on his blog; he is quite right to ‘stick his neck out’ and say we should be doing better for all the reasons he cites on his blog.  It is perhaps good to tackle the factors he cites in order and question why they are not benefitting us;

The Financial Crisis and Vince.

Mark is right that Vince is widely respected for predicting the current economic climate we find ourselves in; however, well I agree people do feel he talks sense I think the reason we accrue little political benefit from it is that he is in the minds of most people some kind of non-party sage. The act of prediction in and of itself has little obvious connection to the fact he is a Liberal Democrat so that explains why we are not ‘credited’ for that.

In term’s of the panacea’s offered I also think there is a disjuncture between what he advocates and Liberal Democrat policy in most peoples minds; something that is probably fostered by the media who either consciously or subconsciously encourage actively this disjuncture.

Government unpopular; opposition unloved.

Mark is again right to point to this. Government unpopularity is almost universal; I have blogged alot about what I feel our problems are in reaching Labour’s core vote but spoken less about the rest. To me it’s simple arithmetic; if people’s main desire is to get rid of the government (and I believe it is) then switching to the Conservatives make sense. Sure, they might not be quite sure about them but that is not their modus operendi; they want rid of the government and that is their primary motivation. It makes sense to me they act on that; sure, we can say your actually electing a government with policies and should vote positively on that basis but, sadly, that is not the way the world works.

The Conservatives are not well liked and as Mark rightly says there is no popular enthusiasm for them, however, in many ways there simply doesn’t have to be. In some Liberal Democrat seats the Conservative votes we ‘loaned’ will return because they were never ours in the first place, in other places, it’s simply the fact that the Conservatives are the best placed to beat Labour.

Politics in crisis.

Again Mark is right to cite this as a factor in our fortunes, at least it should be. However, I see this as merely a problem of positioning; the fact we are not profiting from this factor more than any other tells us (or it should) that we have outgrown the mantle of ‘protest party’. We are too far in the establishment to be seen as part of the solution to this; this is one thing that we have little choice but to weather without too much ado.  It’s simply how things are; the reason that the Conservatives appear to have outflanked us, incindentally, are simple; their leader was relatively fleet of foot when it came to measures getting his own house in order.

We never recaptured the initiative even with Nick Clegg’s bold ‘100 days’ proposal; by the time it came out it looked like a stunt and although many of the proposals commanded support we got no credit from it because things had moved on. This relates to a point Mark makes which, in a variation, I have made before;

We of course do not deserve all of this to fall into our laps. We have to fight, tooth and nail for it. I have seen plenty of evidence that we have the wherewithal to do this, but all the battles seem short term and tactical rather than adding up to a grand strategy. A good example is Nick Clegg’s 100 days idea from the early summer. What happened to that? He announced it, the other parties ignored him and it disappeared.

This is actually an acute symptom of  many of the issues I have talked about; lack of coherent narrative, trying to be all things to all people and in answer to the original question that Mark poses so well….


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About darrellgoodliffe


3 responses to “Why are we not doing better?”

  1. plumbus says :

    I mostly want to argue that we are doing alot better than either the MSM or our activists believe.
    Go back to June for example; in the Euros we were only 2% behind Labour, in the Locals we were 3% ahead. These results chime with alot of what you could call deep polling, attitudes behind party support.
    Im not expecting any great advance in seats but theres a very good chance of beating labour in vote-share & a fair chance od a hung Parliament; either could transform British politics.


  2. Letters From A Tory says :

    The Lib Dem’s problem is not that they cannot grab the media’s attention, it’s that they cannot grab the media’s attention consistently.

    Their polices are all short-termist, there is no philosophy or key ideas running through their announcements – it’s all just a series of one-off announcements. Compare that to Cameron’s speech last week where he talked about principles at the expense of policies.


  3. darrellgoodliffe says :


    Hmmm; I am not so sure. I think all the factors Mark rightly raises in his blog indicates we should be doing so much better than we are currently for the reasons he outlines. Maybe our expectations have grown because of this but I dont exactly see that as a bad thing.

    This is true but the local election result was the bare minimum expected to be honest. Well those things do exist as possibilities but certainly on the first one I think we need to rethink some things to make it happen.


    Agreed; and this fleeting capture of the media agenda seems to have become an end in itself hence what you say about a certain short-termism attached to iniatives being basically in my eyes true.

    I think there is a balance to be struck to be honest; as the main opposition leader I think Cameron does take things too far the other way while we could do with some more coherent and consistent principled narrative.


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