Monday, 29 October 2007

Do the Lib Dems matter and does anybody care?

Tim Hames is not normally kind to the Liberal Democrats. So it was with some surprise that he devoted today’s op ed piece in The Times to an article explaining why the Liberal Democrats matter. Criticising his colleagues (“the cynical puditocracy”) for not taking them seriously, Hames argues that

The Liberal Party and its successors have held firm to similar principles
for about 150 years. Their credo includes a staunch belief in individual
liberty, a confidence in the capacity of man to improve the chances of all in
society, a determination that political individuals and institutions should be
constrained by written rules and a dedicated internationalism.

One can see that there are tensions between these… Yet only the most harsh
would not concede something to the consistency with which they have clung to
their cause for so long. It certainly compares well with a Labour [and]
Conservative Part[ies].

He goes on to note that the Liberals may not have won many elections in a century, but much of our political platform has been delivered. As to the future, Lib Dem poll ratings could very easily rebound to the low-to-mid 20s. “A year from here, the party could be in much better political shape.”

He concludes with a comment on the leadership election and our future as a party that is worth considering: “Bizarrely, Mr Clegg and Chris Huhne, his rival, have happily agreed to contend that there is not much of a difference between them. This is inaccurate in terms of strategy. Mr Clegg is more inclined to emphasise the libertarian trait in the Liberal tradition, while Mr Huhne is comfortable with the collectivist outlook. The two would appeal to quite different kinds of voters. This is not a decision about ‘presentation’ alone, as was plain from their first hustings held on Saturday.

The Liberal Democrats have to be less introspective to prosper. They should stick with their principles but, as Mr Clegg is insisting, also be prepared to acquire a more practical streak. There is no shame in being able to enact your own agenda directly. The party has to have a hunger for power, albeit, realistically, as a junior coalition partner. The two words they need to convince the country of are ‘we matter’.”


Generally, the comments attached to news items are "rabid and stultifyingly ill informed" (to quote Chris Morris on Brasseye). However, that chap from London with the stats on voting numbers is clearly a genius and people should listen to him more.


On a separate note, Times Online also seems to be having great difficulty coping with its fame. While the print version proudly notes that it increased its online traffic by a record 39.1 per cent to Guardian Unlimited’s 28.8 per cent (I suspect that it had less far to climb), the website has been failing to load do to this “extremely heavy traffic”. Maybe it’s time Mr. Murdoch bought a bigger server.

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