This has been a hard few months, and there’s been a lot of discussion about why some people no longer support the Lib Dems. But there’s a lot of us who still do. I thought readers of LibDemVoice might be interested in a thread where a few of us explain the reasons why we are still enthusiastic supporters of the party.
Here’s why I am:
Many leftwing commentators write as if there weren’t a £150bn deficit. If the coalition give this as an excuse for the severe cuts, some sigh in frustration, as if this were a tired excuse.
But the deficit is going to dominate the whole parliament, and fixing it is absolutely essential.
Over nearly thirty years of party membership, I’ve constantly been infuriated by the old cliché, that progressive politicians are irresponsible with the public finances.
There is absolutely nothing progressive about creating initiatives that have to be scrapped because you overspent. All you do is employ people you have to sack, and raise hopes you have to dash. That, and waste a lot of money. Labour avoided doing that in their first term, then, to their shame, they did exactly that in their next two.
But progressive politicians can be responsible. Labour in their first term ran a surplus. So did Roy Jenkins. Bill Clinton was extremely responsible in running the finances of the USA, especially when compared to his Republican predecessors or successor.
And the Lib Dems are being responsible too.
For me, sorting out the potential catastrophe of the deficit is central. But the party has done a lot more than that.
There are numerous examples of progressive policies: for example the higher tax allowance, the pupil premium, and the scrapping of populist authoritarian legislation. Perhaps the greatest victories of Lib Dem influence have been in the policies of Tory Ministers. Ken Clarke’s shift to a progressive penal policy is remarkable, and Ian Duncan Smith’s initiative to remove the poverty trap is potentially historic.
I applaud the fact that these policies aren’t just throwing money at a problem. Rather, they seem to me to be hard-nosed and evidence based.
I’ve mentioned in other threads that there is a lot I’m uneasy about and some things I really hate. This isn’t the thread to go into the negatives, but what reassures me is that I’m sure some Lib Dem ministers share my misgivings, and are working behind the scenes to try to mitigate the damage.
When I remember the last Tory government, who were in a much better financial situation but far more regressive, and compare it to the Coalition, the contrast makes me proud of the difference our people are making.