Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Liberal Democrats: We are not dead yet




As the rumbles of the Euro-massacre continue with mutinous mutterings across the Liberal Democrats, it is worth stepping back and thinking about where were could realistically recover to in the course of the next few weeks and months, and, post the general election election in May 2015, years 
Personally I think that the difficulties of changing leader are so large, and the probable benefits so marginal, because of the damage that it would cause, that it is simply not worth it.
So what should we do instead?
I agree we absolutely need to refocus and to change our way of doing things, but to be honest the false hope that people are investing in a coup de partie against Nick is arguably a substitute for dealing with the real problem of how we have failed to set the political weather at the outset of the coalition, especially because we were outplayed on AV and tuition fees, and how trashed the Party image now is. A civil war will make things much worse, not better.
Meanwhile, our belief in real constitutional reform in the UK is going to get very topical after the Scottish referendum, I think we should propose a British convention to address the corruption of safe seats, the democratic deficit, the nonsense of the House of Lords and all the rest, not to mention greater home rule for Scotland, Wales and of course speaking up for Home Rule for England in a new federal UK. In the eyes of the voters "politics as usual" is the problem, and few understand how radical we are in opposing that. It is pro-active, positive and principled to do this. More than that, it might even strike a chord with the jaded and volatile voting public. 

We need to attack the insane UK tax code, which at nearly 12,000 pages is one of the longest in the world and which mostly exists to reduce the burden on the rich and increase it on the poor. There is genuine anger at how unwieldy and expensive it is, even for the most basic tax payer, to comply with the rules. Radical tax reform is an idea whose time is overdue, and we can lead that rebellion.

Benefits reform- the integration of tax and benefits especially- should be part of the simplification and if the rules become more transparent, then again this can be a popular policy. Steve Webb's measures on pensions will ultimately have huge positive benefits, we should shout about it.

And by the way, these are policies we already have adopted in great detail. We just need to sell them!

The problem is that in trying to defend the coalition, we are fighting the battles of the past, not the future. We should spend the next year saying what we need to do next and barely mentioning the coalition at all. We need to talk about the future and why our ideas are not merely relevant, but essential.

We are not dead yet. But we might be, unless we look to the future.

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