Are 2 Eds better than one? I’m not sure – but the two Eds said something very interesting over the weekend: apparently they don’t have a ‘Plan B’ for the economy after all!
As I drove into the village of Haverthwaite on Saturday morning to do some residents’ surveying, I was preparing to turn the radio off and then Ed Balls popped up. I listened with amazement. In his interview he admitted not only that the programme of cuts being carried out by the Coalition government were right, but that Labour would not over turn them if they were in Government. Unfortunately however he didn’t go as far as to admit that the cause behind all the cuts – the dire economic situation – was in fact largely his fault.
You’ll have heard Simon Hughes and me over the weekend rightly calling on the two Eds to apologise. We want them to apologise to the British public for deceiving them for 18 months before finally admitting that what the Liberal Democrats have been doing in Government is broadly the right approach. However, there is one apology we didn’t call for publicly, but which they still should make – that’s an apology to you!
Last May across the country, from Lancaster to Sheffield and Manchester to Newcastle, many of you lost your council seats to undeserving Labour candidates who were fighting their elections on a false platform with dishonest messages. They stood on a platform that the Eds now admit was wrong. Shame on them – but I’m proud of you.
In addition, Nick Clegg deserves an apology. Nick has been berated and abused by the Labour leadership over the last 18 months for having the guts to stand up and work as part of the Coalition in the best interest of the country. Now Labour have admitted that their attacks were inaccurate – but there’s no hint of apology. They have gone from being in the wrong place, to all over the place.
I don’t expect the apology to come, and we definitely didn’t need Ed and Ed’s endorsement to motivate us for the next set of elections, but their cack-handed u-turn is certainly an encouragement.
This May I expect us to beat Labour in areas we couldn’t last year as their dishonesty has now been exposed (voluntarily, which is nice of them!). Of course we now have the inevitable Labour infighting as the Unions start going potty, accusing Ed and Ed of betrayal and breaking pledges (sound familiar?).
That leaves the Liberal Democrats as the only political party with the backbone to tackle the country’s problems, but with the heart to do everything to ensure that fairness, compassion and justice are written through everything we do.
As this article from The Times recognises, the Liberal Democrats are a progressive force in Government. We are the Party delivering tax cuts for working people, we are the party investing in the poorest school pupils, we are the party delivering the largest ever state pension rise and importantly, we are the party prepared to take the tough decisions needed to get this country back on track.
Anyhow, after Mr Balls had stopped not-quite-apologising on the radio last Saturday, I turned the car radio off, got out and spent 3 hours knocking on doors. The response I got, by the way, was fantastic. It struck me that just as Labour was making its U turn, the Lib Dems may have just turned the corner…
So don’t hold your breath waiting for an apology from Labour – but rest assured you are most definitely owed one!
* Tim Farron is Leader of the Liberal Democrats, MP for Westmorland and Lonsdale and a former President of the Liberal Democrats.