Saturday, 6 November 2010

On popularity (or lack of it!)

LibDem MP, Jeremy Browne, got a right drubbing in last week's BBC Question Time - and that was from the impartial chair of the panel, David Dimbleby, never mind the audience barracking. Admittedly, the venue was in Sheffield where many young voters are disgusted at the Lib Dem's broken manifesto pledge on tuition fees, and a failure to understand the Sheffield Forgemasters' issue.

The problem, as I see it, is that the electorate does not understand the nature of coalition, which is hardly surprising given the hostility of most of the media. The message, "but we didn't win the election, no-one did" - and by implication, 'there's not much we can do except limit Tory excesses' - is not one that is winning any friends. Coalition necessarily means compromise, but not abandon ones' principles and values. We are portrayed as having lost sight of both in favour of a wee taste of power - and some in the party feel that wee taste is laced with poison.

Now that the AV Campaign is underway, it's imperative that a clear, concise case is made to encourage a 'YES' response to the referendum. If, at the end of six months, people do not vote for a change (and improvement ) to our voting system, there a real danger that democracy in our country will take a retrograde step generally and for the LibDems specifically who will I fear once again be consigned to the wilderness of minority opposition, a position that is perhaps only marginally worse than that of 'Junior Coalition Partner'.

Elections are shortly being held for the role of President of the Liberal Democrats. My vote will be given to whoever I think can best help re-establish Lib Dem credibility with the electorate as well as our unique and radical identity. And the electorate will need to be reminded that the MPs expenses scandal is just one example that should convince us of the need for greater accountability and better representation.