Opinion: Reasons to be cheerful

As some of us head for the beach at the end of a very long term, it might be a good idea to see whether there is any light in the current political gloom.

I can count no less than 6 ‘reasons to be cheerful’.

First of all, last week saw the initial meetings of the new Westminster policy teams, designed to facilitate dialogue and communication between the Liberal Democrats in government, especially ministers, and interested parliamentarians, councillor representatives and the Federal Policy Committee.

The ones I attended were workmanlike – and anyway are a great deal better than anything our Coalition partners enjoy.

If they are successful, they will improve understanding and make it easier to shape relevant and distinctly Liberal Democrat policy over the coming years. Time will tell.

(The Observer by the way ignores the role of councillors – nothing new there – and says the ‘committees’ have been set up to ‘challenge policy’, on the fine journalistic principle of Why-Not-Make-It-Up?).

Second: David Davis doesn’t like us. Apparently (according to the FT) he believes that Cameron is more concerned about appeasing the Liberal Democrats than his own party. So the Coalition is too Lib Dem dominated for Tory rightwingers. Nice!

Third: Nick’s so called gaffe over the illegal war. I cheered when I heard him denounce Labour’s criminality in relation to this disgraceful chapter in our country’s history.

Fourth: Nick’s so called gaffe over Yarl’s Wood. The Coalition is going to stop the imprisonment of children, a Jack Straw legacy which still beggars belief. Another cheer.

Fifth: after a dodgy 13% in a YouGov poll, we managed 23% in an opinion poll in the People and a pretty good set of council by-election results. (The Observer ignores this, of course, and repeats the 13%).

Sixth: Nick is going to resume his town hall meetings schedule, which he embarked on when he first became leader. (The Observer describes this as a ‘nationwide bid to rebuild Lib Dem support’. Mental note: just stop buying the Observer.).

So why the gloom?

Council groups I have spoken to are nervous. The main cuts have not yet fallen but their vanguard has already caused some real pain.
The health reforms are scarily ambitious even if impressively localist (councils will be involved in managing parts of the health service, something they used to do before Bevan’s centralism removed local democratic accountability in 1948).

Then there’s Gove. The rushed academies bill, the danger of free schools and the incompetent announcement over Building Schools for the Future between them are more difficult to defend than any increase in taxation or spending cut.

Perhaps Cameron could do a bit more appeasing and find some overseas work for this particular Secretary of State?

This really would make us cheerful. And would have the added advantage of sending Davis ballistic.

Come on, Dave: what about it?

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This entry was posted in Op-eds.


  • Or you could try reasoning.

  • John Emerson 26th Jul '10 - 12:30pm

    “Fifth: after a dodgy 13% in a YouGov poll, we managed 23% in an opinion poll in the People and a pretty good set of council by-election results. (The Observer ignores this, of course, and repeats the 13%).”

    Erm, do you mean from the pollster who brought us this as the final election prediction?
    and who publically reveal nothing about their methodology and questions.

    Lets wait until a more reputable polling firm, (ICM and Mori have polls due), to confirm or deny the YouGov findings.

  • Lib Dems could easily delay the Academies Bill to ensure that it does not become law tomorrow without voting against and breaking your agreement. Let’s have an honest and open debate over the coming months – including plenty of time for the proposed academies to consult with their staff, parents, students and communities. I understand that there are only about 30 who could become academies in September even if the bill goes through so a delay is hardly going to cause chaos.

    Who knows, with a bit of luck Gove may resign in frustration!

  • Dominic Curran 26th Jul '10 - 1:28pm

    I can’t say i share your cheer, chris. You must be one of the 13%.

    Do you have a link for the poll that you mentioned? Searching publications such as the People make me feel like i’m losing a little bit of my soul, so a direct link would cheer me up enormously.

  • paul barker 26th Jul '10 - 2:15pm

    As far as the polls go, they can be usefull when comparing like with like, eg Yougov polls in one month with Yougov polls in another month. As a a predictive tool for Elections they are useless. If we want any idea of how we will do in 2015 we will have to wait till we get some actual Elections, probably next May. The normal uselessness of Polls has been made worse by all the rejigging done since the GE, now we cant even compare them with previous Polls.

  • As regards stop buying the Observer, add to that stop buying the Guardian as it spouts the same bile.

  • Rob Sheffield 26th Jul '10 - 6:58pm

    BBC Newsnight tonight – More ‘reasons to be cheerful’:

    “Four in 10 people who say they voted Lib Dem would not have done had they known the party would enter a coalition with the Tories, a poll suggests.” = it is actually **42%**: so ther 13% YG figure is correct.

    “Asked whether the Lib Dems had strengthened or weakened the party’s identity since entering the coalition, 60% of all those polled agreed the party had weakened its identity and that they no longer knew what it stood for, while 34% believed it had strengthened it.”

    “Among Lib Dem voters, 53% believed their party’s identity had been weakened, while 45% believed it had been strengthened” = so you really are two parties then.

    Come on guys and gals- we are in the middle of the honeymoon period and all cuts/ sackings/ reduced quality of services etc etc are only abstract words at the moment….

  • Rob Sheffield 26th Jul '10 - 7:00pm

    “Fifth: after a dodgy 13% in a YouGov poll, we managed 23% in an opinion poll in the People and a pretty good set of council by-election results. (The Observer ignores this, of course, and repeats the 13%).”


    Here is what UK Polling Report had to say on THAT:

    “There is also a OnePoll survey in the People with topline figures CON 40%, LAB 30%, LDEM 23%. Regular readers may recall I gave these no credence to their polling during the election campaign, given did not publish the necessary information to judge whether their sampling and methodology were likely to produce representative findings. In the event their final poll bore virtually no resemblence to the election result, with shares of CON 30% (out by 7), LAB 21% (out by 9) and LDEM 32% (out by 9) – in the same way as I do not know how they conducted polling prior to the election, I have no idea if they have changed their methods since then”

  • John Fraser 26th Jul '10 - 8:09pm

    Whilst it is good that the FPC is at last getting a look in Nick has a history of paying little attention to the decisions they take . Look at our oppoistion to student loans. Sadly I expect little more than Lb service to be given to the FPC or for that matter any Liberal Democrats that really care about Social justice.

  • I don’t see any reasons to cheer, I voted LibDem because I didn’t want tory plans enacted. On education and health the LibDems seem to be letting the barbarians loose to enact the failed policies they tried before which resulted in the disgraceful state of them in 1997.

  • Stephen Smith 27th Jul '10 - 1:33am

    Just a comment from outside the LibDem camp – just a voter, willing to be persuaded, election by election, in the same constituency as Chris White.
    I am amazed that the Lib Dems are the prop for an unreconstructed Tory party – no consultation, no debate – you have put the barbarians in charge. The speed with which they are taking an axe to deliver their anti state pro Private Enterprise agenda, using the deficit as the perfect excuse (as they think – but are we all really so stupid not to see through that? – timescale, severity not the deficit itself) has one effect you need to be aware of – the systematic alienation of whole tranches of voters – educationists, health workers, public sector employees everywhere – and others – (DIY policing – the bIg society! ) means that by the time there is the referedum on S Trans Vote, whole swathes of the electorate will have a very clear idea what a vote for the Liberals will deliver. Normally a government takes some years before the alienation has a tipping point. You may well find that the plausibility of your “principled support of a coalition” & of Clegg (already wearing thin) has evaporated and the 2 party system will be returned for another ? 50 years. I really am very bitter – a vote for the Liberals nearly ended up delivering an even bigger Liberal representation, and a more secure vehicle for a Right wing Tory government (already going further than Thatcher ever did – dare I say, in comparison even she had some prnciples). Like many people. I will be saying – never again !

  • Dear Mr Nero
    Absolutely love what you are doing with that violin – keep it up! Oddly warm for the time of year though don’t you think? Still there was a fantastic sunset over the Tiber this evening and it seems to be going on all night. So, mustn’t grumble eh? See you in the forum after the hols.
    Best wishes
    Gullibulanus Maximus

  • My understanding was that Bevan and the Labour government that established the NHS wanted localised control of the health service but that doctors refused to be salaried employees of the local council. Bevan bought off the doctors by nationalising the hospitals. Without that, universal health care would not have been achieved. Still, don’t let that stop you from following the tribal mantra de jour, ‘Labour are evil centralisers’, repeat ad nauseum…

    And obviously you’re right about the NHS privatisation, it is scary, though not overly ambitious, simply what Tony Blair tried to do throughout his time as PM. It must be right though, firstly because ‘we’ are in power now and have got to see the books, obviously money wins over principle every time, and secondly, it has obviously been a 60 year mistake and people were much better off with the pre-1948 model. A system that provides people with health care free at the point of delivery and available to all, such as we’ve had since 1948 (even if it is better than it has ever been and has been getting more responsive to individual needs for 13 years as a result of targets and planning and could have been fixed with a few tweeks to PCT’s) isn’t worth a jot if it isn’t local and hasn’t got choice (well, the kind of choice delivered by free markets) as its primary objective. After all Liberalism is entirely about choice and localism isn’t it? We all know that really, when Nick quotes Sen he only means to let us know he’s heard of him and that actually liberty = freedom of choice. Equalising capabilities to make choice meaningful? Well, that’s just window dressing.

  • Someone mentioned above, “make me feel like i’m losing a little bit of my soul,” I know that feeling too, a kind horrible sinking feeling, I have this ‘feeling’ as well, maybe for different reasons granted, mine because I feel like I’ve sold my soul, and not just a ‘little’ of it either, all of it.
    before anyone starts shouting ‘Labour troll’ I must state that I am not, I’m just a very disillusioned LibDem supporter.

    @Alex P, That would be funny if it wasn’t so true

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