Sunday, September 19th, 2010 07:23 pm
There was a consultative session this morning about 'Strategy' based on this document (clear print or plain text). Essentially, it was a discussion of how the party should proceed now that it's part of a coalition government; particularly how it should continue to make distinct policy, and how that policy should be presented. I managed to miss most of it, although I'm hoping to be able to iPlayer it at some point, because based on accounts from it, and from Ros Scott's summation which I did catch, it sounds very interesting. One point that did come up was that it would be great if we stopped seeing Liberal Democrats in the coalition defending policies the obviously disagreed with.

This point was put to Nick Clegg in the afternoon Q and A session, and he quite reasonably asked us to picture the scene at a press conference where he stood up and said 'here's a new policy, which I'm not particularly happy about'. He has a point. For the sake of good government, there comes a point when everyone needs to at least try to make the policies work, whether you agree with them or not (or break up the government, but I'll assume we're not at that point now). That goes double for economic policy, where part of the point is to convince the international financial community that we know what we're doing. Much as he might like to, I don't expect Danny Alexander to stand up and say: 'Vince and I think this policy's going to push us back in recession, but George Osborne assures us he thinks it'll work *snigger*', and I think it would be even worse for the economy if he did.

All this will come back to haunt us at the 2015 election, though. It's not just that at that point, both the Lib Dems and the Conservatives are going to claim credit for everything that went right, and blame the others for everything that didn't, but our 2015 election manifesto is likely to contain a lot of policies that work against much of what we did as part of the coalition. I see that as an inevitable part of governing as a coalition, but I'm not sure the bulk of the electorate will; there's already a perception of the Lib Dems as people who will flip-flop on policy at the drop of a hat, and I don't see that having gone away by 2015. Not that I think we can do anything about it - it's just another in a long list of 'sucks to be us' things about how things worked out after the last election.

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