Forget Nick Clegg’s leadership. There is one issue and one issue alone that the Lib Dems need to focus on in the year ahead: the economy.
There are many reasons for the party’s dip in the polls since the heady heights of ‘Cleggmania’ – allying with the Tories, U-turning over tuition fees – but the single biggest reason for the Coalition Government’s fading fortunes is the continuing recession, coupled with the poor decisions George Osborne made in his March budget.
That is why the Lib Dems must now demonstrate to the British public that their concerns are our concerns. For that reason, Nick Clegg was right to recognise that reforming the House of Lords would appear to many to be a distraction given the Conservative and Labour parties’ decision to block its progress.
The economy also happens to be the issue on which Lib Dems and Tories are in greatest agreement. Now is the time for the Coalition to unite behind a radical and popular agenda of liberal reforms – in the banking sector and beyond – to create a more competitive and much, much fairer economy: a capitalist system that serves everyone, not just a privileged minority.
The prize for the Lib Dems is clear. Not just a political and economic recovery in time for the next election, but also the proof that Coalition Government – parties coming together in the national interest – can actually work.
* You can read Mark Pack’s take on What should the Liberal Democrats focus on in the next year? here.
* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.