There’s a great article in today’s Times [£] praising the Liberal Democrats and fancying the party’s prospects between now and 2015.
Rachel Sylvester writes that although the received wisdom says coalition government has ruined the Lib Dems’ chances, it’s too early to write them off:
The Liberal Democrats could end up doing a lot better than most people currently think.
She cites encouraging signs in the polls:
A huge number of people still have no idea how they are going to vote and although only 12 per cent say that they would support Mr Clegg’s party if there were an election tomorrow, 21 per cent say that they would “seriously think about” voting Lib Dem when the country next goes to the polls. There is, by contrast, almost no gap between these two sets of figures for either Labour or the Conservatives. The swing voters who propelled Tony Blair to victory and, before that, kept Margaret Thatcher in No 10 are open to Mr Clegg. For from being squished to oblivion, the Lib Dems could end up as the party of the centre ground.
And the reason for this renewed confidence in the party?
The Lib Dems have done one crucial thing by joining the coalition — they have proved that they can be a serious party of government. This removes the single biggest reason why people did not vote for them in previous elections — the idea that putting an X in the Lib Dem box was a wasted vote. If economic credibility is an essential precondition for electoral success, then Mr Clegg is in a far better position than Mr Miliband right now.
The party is praised for learning the “importance of party discipline and political consistency,” reflected in the words of a “senior party figure”:
The party is becoming more grown-up. We’ve gone from adolescence to adulthood in months, not years.
Read the full piece in the Times [£].