Chris White writes: I have just received an email from Simon Hughes

I have just received an email from Simon Hughes. It said:

It’s been a great month for Liberal Democrats who are setting the pace on the green agenda!

It doesn’t quite say it’s been a great month for ‘the’ Liberal Democrats but most people will read it that way and think vaguely of my one and only Kipling joke:

If you can keep your head while all around are losing theirs…then you haven’t understood the true seriousness of the situation.

To be fair on Simon and his team, we do need reminding that there is more to this coalition than AV, Lords reform and putting up with Eric Pickles or [insert ghastly alternative Tory minister of choice].

I am proud of the fact that Lib Dem ministers are introducing an Energy Bill, a carbon budget, and the Green Investment Bank. These are good policies which remind us of why we do politics in the first place. And we need to make sure that we cover them in our leaflets and conversations with the public.

But will the public notice? I have been to a fair few post mortems over the past week or so, from purely local to ALDC and the Federal Party. All pretty gloomy. The public caned us over tuition fees and being in the Coalition at all – and yet were nice to the Tories. True: someone who did not vote for us because of the Coalition probably did not themselves back the Tories, but it is hard to dislodge the idea that it is, in teenager speak, ‘so unfair.’

Meanwhile the public did not, except in isolated cases, give much support to the Greens. They rarely do, preferring an Augustinian ‘Lord make me virtuous but not yet’ approach, while hacking down trees because they ‘block out the light’. The Green Investment Bank, bluntly, is not going to float their globally warmed boat.

But what was truly unfair was that we were punished over AV: punished by the Tories who came out in higher numbers than normally would have been the case in local elections to vote No and Tory, punished by Labour who came out in higher numbers to Vote Yes and Labour (and also No and Labour). And punished by the blithering nature of the Yes campaign.

Move on, eh? Next year won’t be so bad. Thankfully there won’t on polling day in 2012 be another extraneous issue which will causes Tory voters to pour out and spoil our usual local election differential.

Well: there won’t be provided we don’t have Police Commissioner elections.

Still keeping your head?

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • As a former hard working Lib Dem Councillor from what used to be a safe seat I’ll try and remember just how great May was while I’m waiting for my benefits to be sorted out!

  • Chris, in Scotland they did have an alternative and they went en masse to the SNP.

    Again, this makes the point I’ve said before – the party in London is seeing Scotland as “collateral damage” and doesn’t really care about what happened. Perhaps LDV might like to get someone from Cowley St to come on here and prove that they do actually give a toss about us, or are they just more concerned about appointing Marketing Directors and fitting out their new offices?

  • “But what was truly unfair was that we were punished over AV: punished by the Tories who came out in higher numbers than normally would have been the case in local elections to vote No and Tory, punished by Labour who came out in higher numbers to Vote Yes and Labour (and also No and Labour). ”

    You could have summarised this as being punished by Clegg not listening to those warned in advance of the dangers of holding the referendum the same day as local elections. All of which came true…..

  • @ Richard E – ‘This group of essentially left-wing voters …. discovered that the right wing of the LibDems had now conclusively won ….. (T)he left… longer has a significant influence on policy.’

    In fact, the left of the Lib Dems has been steadily regaining ground in internal elections since Nick Clegg was elected leader in Dec 2007. (Tim Farron is now President, elected on the same electorate as the leader, and Federal Ctte elections in 2008 and 2010 were significant victories for the left). That is why Nick Clegg had to ‘walk through fire’ to get his tuition fees policy through the Commons (because almost half the Parly Party voted No), and why he is having to renege on the promises he must have given Cameron over NHS reform. Some activists are refusing to work for Pro-tuition fees MPs. I expect the next leader of the Lib Dems (Farron himself?) will move the party firmly back to the centre-left. The real question is how much damage we will take en route.

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