Conference Comment: What the papers say (1)

Clegg SpeechIt fairly wall to wall Lib Dem coverage in the national press today and party leaders are cheerleading for our role in the coalition. Even newspapers that are not normally friendly towards the Lib Dems have something positive to say. There is a grudging respect that the Lib Dems took on the near impossible task of collaborating in a coalition government and have stuck with it.

Nick Clegg gives an exclusive and upbeat interview to the Independent.

Over in the Telegraph, Danny Alexander says that hard pressed workers deserve pay rises as the economy recovers. He says the party has to “shout from the roof tops“ to ensure that voters recognise the role it has played in improving the economy.

Anyone who says this better economic news is all to the credit of the Conservatives is wrong. This is a joint plan that bears the imprint of the Lib Dems.

In the Guardian, Vince Cable makes the case for an increase in the minimum wage, which he says has fallen by as much as 12% since the crash of 2008. Also in the Guardian, Cable dismisses David Cameron’s jibe that he is a “perpetual Jeremiah”.

Tim Wigmore in the Telegraph picks up on an interview Tim Farron gave earlier in the week to the New Statesman. Farron, Wigmore says, is a fan of Ed Miliband and wants to the party to become a centre-left alternative to Labour.

But this Lib Dem conference isn’t really about Nick Clegg or Tim Farron as personalities. It’s about whether the membership shares Farron’s view of Ed Miliband’s Labour or Jeremy Browne’s, who said, “I just don’t think of them as equipped to run the country.”

The Yorkshire Post notes Lib Dems’ discomfort with Clegg’s positioning of the party:

His party, however, remains distinctly nervous about the path Mr Clegg has led them upon, from centre-left party of protest to dead-centre party of coalition.

Writing in the Express, John Hemming MP salutes the Lib Dems’ record in coalition:

At the next General Election, we will be able to say that we have rescued the country from the mess created by Labour and cut taxes on the lower paid. Importantly, we will also be able to say that we have held back some of the Conservative excesses.

But he can’t resist a pot shot at Nick:

Nick Clegg himself is not entirely popular with everyone in the party.

The Daily Mail, Mirror and other newspapers pick on Jeremy Browne’s New Statesman interview in which he said he is relaxed about a new wave of immigration from Bulgaria and Romania next year. In that interview, he also said the idea of driving mobile billboards inviting illegal immigrants to “Go home or face arrest“ around multiracial boroughs of London was a mistake.

The Telegraph devotes its leader column to the Glasgow conference:

Ever since the Coalition was formed, [the Lib Dem] conference has been billed as a clash between those remaining activists who have never been reconciled to a pact with the Tories, and Nick Clegg. This year is no exception.

With the opinion polls pointing to another hung parliament at the next general election, the question is whether the Lib Dems will start positioning themselves for a possible deal with Labour or reinforce their ties with the Tories – or, more specifically, David Cameron.

The Guardian’s leader urges the Lib Dems to restore their reputation for defending civil liberties:

Liberal Democrat pride at proving themselves as a party of government inevitably jostles with anxiety about some of the compromises made, and the electoral damage sustained. The voters’ verdict in 2015 may be brutal. One way of preventing that is to revive the party’s reputation for standing up for civil liberties against the over-mighty state. The Lib Dems have a hugely important opportunity to burnish that reputation this week.

The Evening Standard’s leader also has a fairly positive take on the Lib Dem’s electoral fortunes:

If nothing else, the Lib-Dems have proved since 2010 that coalition government can work. However much all parties may grumble at coalition or the prospect of it, the arrangement is keeping the Lib-Dems in power at present — and may do so again in 2015.

And back to the Telegraph which can’t seem to stop writing about us Lib Dems. Will Heaven writes:

Nick Clegg’s challenge is to persuade his members to start thinking seriously about 2015. Do they want to continue as a serious party of government, or a protesters’ third party? And the great Lib Dem dilemma: are they going to reinforce their ties with the Tories, or – more risky, this – start positioning for coalition with Labour?

Finally, the BBC provides a handy guide to the big names at Glasgow.

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  • “There is a grudging respect that the Lib Dems took on the near impossible task of collaborating in a coalition government and have stuck with it.”

    You could not get further from the truth. It seems that the penny still has still not dropped. 8% in the National opinion polls, no support in the North and key figures starting to leave. The longer you put off facing the truth the worse it will be and the rats will jump eventually.

  • The problem with “The Polls” is that they are mostly trying to measure something that doesnt exist – Voting “Intention”. Its like asking people what they intend to have for dinner 3 weeks on tuesday. The “Intention” isnt there. Its no surprise the such Polls are such a poor guide to future General Elections.
    For the sake of accuracy the current range of Libdem “support” is between 8 & 16%. The UKPR average has us on 11% & its been 10 or 11% for the last 2 years.

  • “There is a grudging respect that the Lib Dems took on the near impossible task of collaborating in a coalition government and have stuck with it.”

    This may be true but it doesn’t mean there will be an increase in votes.

  • Richard Dean 14th Sep '13 - 1:26pm

    The question is not how to moan most, but how to recover well.

  • Andrew Hatton 14th Sep '13 - 4:01pm

    The newspapers and the public will not cheer if the current very dangerous #Transforming Rehabilitation Policy is not stopped before the 100 year structure of public probation is destroyed beyond repair.

    Lord McNally trumpeted the flawed and nonsensical, unjust, illiberal Offender Rehabilitation Bill which is unlikely to ever be even nearly fully implemented by ANY government unless it is seriously amended in the House of Commons.

    Meanwhile the Government with Nick Clegg’s active support – confirmed by an ill informed speech he made at NACRO in May when he rubbished probation practitioners – is NOW encouraging Probation Trust Board members to set aside the 2007 Offender Management Act and bring their organisations to an end in less time than Parliament said should be allowed for such wide ranging changes.

    Wait until a few serious crimes are committed by folk supervised (or more likely not properly supervised) by the soon to be established privatised Community Probation Companies – that cause real harm to victims. Meanwhile resentment from those not supervised well will increase and be carried into the prisons where many are likely to end up – especially if short sentence prisoners subjected to statutory supervision for the first time are recalled to prison for technical licence breaches rather than a further offence.

    You’ll be able to look back here and say we were warned by folk with probation front line experience but we ignored them because we don’t want to upset the Tories!

    I doubt you’ll accept this post (you rejected two last week) – so be it those who ‘spike’ it will now they were warned and they hid the warning!

    See also what other probation folk – who your Government is liberally gagging are really saying!

    If you want to know more follow me on Twitter

  • Andy – Sarah Teather is not a key figure (not in my books at least). She is a disgruntled ex-minister. And she’s not leaving, she’s just not standing for re-election.

    As for the 8%, it’s funny you choose to mention the lowest poll rating possible, isn’t it? Not the recent 14% from Populus or 12% from Comres. As Paul Barker says, our rating is around 11%, which is poor, but basically about four or five points below where we were at this time in the last electoral cycle. One of the main reasons for this is that virtually no-one actually hears our message because of a lack of national media presence, apart from the occasional slagging off from the Tory press. Until we can start communicating our national position at a local level, this isn’t going to change.

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