I wasn’t the first in the party, and I doubt I’ll be the last, to say the Liberal Democrats need to make more of our achievements in government. There’s little doubt the balance of power in the Coalition lies with the Tories, but with five members of the Cabinet and sixteen further Government Ministers, we must have some kind of influence, right?
Well we certainly seem to. I recently came across a document outlining how the Liberal Democrats have been meeting their various manifesto commitments in government. It included some of our key pledges, such as raising the basic income tax threshold towards £10,000, introducing a ‘pupil premium’ for disadvantaged kids, and scrapping ID cards.
These are the bread and butter policies we campaigned on a year ago, and are central to the Lib Dem philosophy. Beyond those high profile successes however, the document also lists a raft of other policies, now implemented, that Mrs Smith down the road might not be so aware of.
A judicial inquiry into Britain’s role in torture and rendition, banning wheel clamping on private property, prioritising research into dementia and respite help for full-time carers – just some of the things the Liberal Democrats have moved from Focus leaflets into Government policy documents.
Of course I’m not suggesting we can take sole credit for everything good the Government announces, but these policies were all clearly written into the general election manifesto we campaigned on – stated Liberal Democrat policies now on the nation’s statute books.
Knowing that not everyone enjoys spending their weekend reading Lib Dem policy documents, I’ve put together a simple website highlighting some of these achievements – www.WhatTheHellHaveTheLibDemsDone.com. What’s more, I’ve given it an intriguing name so you simply can’t resist taking a look!
It’s my way of getting across to activists and sceptics alike what the Liberal Democrats have been doing in government, which is vital if we are going to stand up and be counted in May’s elections. The alternative is simply to bow our heads in apologetic silence until it’s all over.
Finally, allow me to acknowledge the elephant in the room. Funnily enough, neither the Lib Dem ‘successes’ document nor the website mention anything about tuition fees, an issue which still leaves many in the party frothing at the mouth. That is not to ignore the fact we haven’t handled everything particularly well in government. It has been, for many of us, a testing time. It’s just that it shouldn’t cancel out all the positive things we’ve done over the past twelve months, and the real part we are playing in the future of Britain.
William Summers was the party’s parliamentary candidate in 2010 for North West Norfolk and can be found on Twitter here.