An ironic footnote to John Rentoul’s article

I blogged yesterday about a couple of serious holes in the argument in John Rentoul’s piece for The Independent, in which he argued that the party’s fortunes had not increased under Nick Clegg’s leadership. Ironic really then that the newspaper carrying an opinion poll tomorrow showing the Liberal Democrats up three points to their highest rating with that pollster for a year should be … The Independent. Ho hum.

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  • passing tory 29th Apr '08 - 12:55pm

    All just down in the noise, I’m afraid. The vast majority of people just don’t care, so if 3% more of them say they slightly prefer the Lib Dem today then it hardly disprove Rentoul’s point overnight (which is not to say that he is right or wrong in long term trends, just that cocking him a snook right now shows pretty poor awareness of what polling data means)

  • Yet Another Anon 30th Apr '08 - 1:06pm

    The Liberal Democrats are rather like Terry Thomas in those Magnificent Men in Their Flying Machines – sometimes on a high going back to their constituencies and preparing for government then crashing right back where they were.

    In the 2005 General Election the total Liberal Democrat vote only went up to almost where it had been in 1992, the percentage Liberal Democrat vote was 22.3%, lowering than the percentage of the Popular Vote the Alliance got in both and 1983 and 1987 and not much higher than the Liberal Party got in February 1974.

    Back in the 1980s the Alliance was getting over 7 million votes, these days a good result is over 5 million votes, the gains since 1992 have been through a concentration of the Liberal Democrat vote and there is every sign that this is temporary, that as the Conservative Party continue to strengthen in the South of England and that as Labour’s vote in urban constituencies starts to recover that even in the unlikely event that the Liberal Democrats were to continue to get 20%+ of the vote that their number of seats could well go back to 1983-97 levels.

    The 2005 result was largely the result of a shameless exploitation of the War in Iraq, of course the Liberal Democrats conveniently ignored the fact that military action was already happening and sanctions in place, that the regime was continuing to play games with inspectors while developing new prohibited missiles exeeding the 150km range with new guidance systems and that the main sufferers were most of the Iraqi people and the environment of the South, notably the marshes while the regime built huge statues to Saddam Hussein, vast palaces and spent 20% of GDP on the Armed Forces.

    There are major problems in Iraq, the Rumsfeld War Strategy was flawed as people such as Senator John McCain and most of Rumsfeld’s Pentagon advisers pointed out, but there is now a government supported by most people in Iraq, that attempts to govern in the interests of most people in Iraq rather than in a narrow clique around Saddam Hussein.

    The Iraqi economy is growing rapidly, measures are being taken to recover as much of the marshes as possible and Iraq now spends a tenth the proportion of GDP on the Armed Forces that it did under the old regime.

    The Liberal Democrats have lost this issue that they were able to cruise on in 2005, in getting rid of Menzies Campbell they have got rid of someone who while past his best was a competent strategist, and expert in the workings of parliament, indeed someone who took a more realistic view of achieving peace in Iraq than any of his leadership contenders in 2006.

    Having pushed 2 leaders out since the election the Liberal Democrats come over to the general public as cynical and opportunistic in the same way as the Conservative Party were when they ditched the principled pragmatic IDS for the sloganising Michael Howard who ditched carefully worked out policies for the dog whistle and an immigration policy that apparently was being made up as he went along.

    Nick Clegg and Chris Huhne are like cardboard cutout tweedledum and tweedledee characters, of little interest to most people – not much disliked, not much liked, just ignored.

    People such as David Owen, Paddy Ashdown, Menzies Campbell were vigorous in striving for what they believed to be right, were heavily into strategic planning and quite prepared to get their teeth into their opponents and pull them to pieces for their failings.

    Politics requires a principled but ruthless approach, all 3 main parties continue to stick to the failed liberal policies of post WWII governments – dealing with crime & terrorism requires ruling with a rod of iron and withdrawal from the EU and European Court of Human Rights and European Court of Justice. Defence, Police, Intelligence Services and Courts all need their spending doubled and the state needs to look to slash labour market regulation and cut social programmes to reduce dependency and encourage an enterprise culture while increasing R&D both civilian and military spending, transport spending and to increase fuel sustainability embark phase out use of coal and natural gas use and have an interim programme of new nuclear build to maintain capacity, raising prices is neccessary to provide funding for investment in nuclear and in renewables and to ration supply encouraging optimal use of fuel & power.

    The public is becoming fedup of all 3 main parties, they want tough action about crime, they mostly don’t care about the rights of terrorists and other scum, what they want is rights for law abiding citizens of whatever religion or ethnicity to live their lives safe and encouraged by government to use the money they have earned to improve their own lives and those of their families.

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