Opinion: We need to counter the perception that we are no longer a political force to take seriously

Many of my friends are quite bemused when I say am working for the Liberal Democrats. “They’re a bit of a laughing stock at the moment,” one will say. “They’ll be wiped out at the next election,” another comments. These are not die-hard Labour tribalists or Tory hardliners, who yearn for the end of the Lib Dems and the return to a two-party system. They are just ordinary members of the public, with nothing more than a passing interest in politics.

For me, this is the biggest danger facing the Liberal Democrats: that, despite having been in power for over two years, we are still not being taken seriously as a political party. I accept that we have lost a lot of grassroots support as a result of tuition fees, NHS reform and the Welfare Reform Bill, which are seen by many as a betrayal of our identity as an essentially social-democratic, left-of-centre party.

Undoubtedly, Labour have also been able to capitalise on this by portraying themselves as the only true party of the left, despite being the party that presided over 13 years of increasing inequality. But for many people I speak to, the issue is not the difficult decisions we have had to make, or the fact we are sustaining a deeply unpopular Tory government. Instead, many who are not particularly politically engaged have come to see us as something of a joke; a curious, temporary anomaly which will all but disappear at the next election.

What most concerns me about this is that it may end up becoming a self-fulfilling prophecy. With so many people talking about how badly the Lib Dems will fare in 2015, many will be discouraged from voting for us as we will not be seen as a credible electoral choice. Insights from behavioural economics suggest that people tend to follow the crowd when voting. If polling reports show a candidate is doing particularly well then people are more likely to support them. Conversely, the worst thing you can do to try and address low voter turnout is to tell people that not enough of the population are voting – this will just discourage them even more. When commentators say that no-one will be voting for the Lib Dems and that our support has collapsed, that results in a further erosion of support. Meanwhile, just a small bounce back in the polls could trigger a significant change in people’s attitudes.

It’s not really clear how to address this issue. Important victories such as those over gay marriage and, hopefully, over House of Lords reform may appeal to a small, progressive minority, but these issues are not on the minds of most of the British public. If anything, they simply serve to reinforce the perception of the Lib Dems as a slightly eccentric party, out of touch with the electorate and more concerned with constitutional reform than economic recovery. Meanwhile, Nick Clegg commenting at Leveson that he was sitting at the children’s end of Murdoch’s table, or his recent description of being in government as akin to being lobotomised, may raise a few chuckles, but they simply give ammunition to those who wish to portray us as a party which is not worth taking seriously.

In order to recover as a political party, we need to counter the perception that we are irrelevant, and that we are no longer a serious electoral threat. Governments may be deeply unpopular, but if they are viewed as resolute and competent the public will still support them at the ballot box. It has already been said many times that the Lib Dems need to stop apologising for being in government. I think we need to do more. We need to show people that we are here to stay, that come 2015 we will not simply keel over and allow a return to two-party politics, but will present a strong, credible choice to the electorate. For that to happen, we need to assert ourselves more as a party of government, and not simply as a party struggling to keep the Tories in check. Ultimately, the biggest paradox of being in coalition is not that we have lost support, but that we have lost credibility.

* Paul Haydon has recently completed an MSc in European Public Policy at University College London.

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34 Comments

  • “despite having been in power for over two years”

    and

    “or the fact we are sustaining a deeply unpopular Tory government”

    First, perhaps you may wish to realise that you are in Government as well, so if it is unpopular then you have to take your share?

    “but if they are viewed as resolute and competent the public will still support them at the ballot box. ”

    I think this is where you have a major issue, you are gaining the reputation of throwing teddy out of the pram when things don’t go your way. I’m not only talking about the MP element of the Party with their nuclear buttons, but some of your membership doesn’t help either (e.g. we’ll block equalising if you block Lords).

    “Lib Dems need to stop apologising for being in government”

    See comment above and realising that you are in Government.

    “assert ourselves more as a party of government, and not simply as a party struggling to keep the Tories in check”

    But will your membership allow your politicians the leeway to do that (i.e. will they stop having hissy fits)? Perhaps (at long last) realising that being in Government does have a tendency to make you unpopular, but that the public don’t usually care as long as you appear to know what you are doing (as per your comments).

  • Lords reform would be welcome, however two major flaws in the Lib Dem proposals are likely to undermine any benefit. Firstly, I find it quite obscene that there are plans for fundamental constitutional reform without a referendum. It seems, on the face of it, that the only strong reason for rejecting a referendum is Clegg’s fear of losing another one. Secondly, the proposals do not address a key flaw in the Lords by continuing to provide a role for the Lords Spiritual in the new arrangement. This is unacceptable, the church should wield influence through the democratic actions of its members, not be given permanent seats in parliament through which to impose its views on an increasingly secular and multi-faith society.

  • Simon Bamonte 9th Jul '12 - 5:42pm

    @Chris_sh:

    I agree with the bit about Lib Dems acting as if the parts they don’t like about this government have nothing to do with them. However, you say they throw their toys out of the pram when they come across things they don’t like – but they (the MPs and Lords) still vote for them. Look at the many Tories who are now going to vote against Lords’ reform – we’ve not had any kind of noteworthy rebellion from LD MPs or Peers. They say they didn’t like voting with Tories on tuition fees, the dreaded NHS bill, welfare reform and the Jeremy Hunt vote – but they still went in, lined up and voted for them.

    IMO, the LDs in government don’t throw their toys out of the pram enough and stand up for what they believe in. They may make a few negative comments in the press but the fact remains they have not had the bravery to vote with their consciences like these Tory MPs going against HoL reform are doing (even if I disagree with these Tories, at least they have the bravery to follow their consciences, unlike LD MPs these days).

    That said, as an ex-LD I honestly have no idea what this party stands for any more. And, as this article states, I’m not the only one in the country who feels this way. Nobody I know trusts anything the Lib Dems say any longer, just like Labour lost all their trust after Iraq.

  • So you’re equating an illegal war, based on deliberately fabricated Government documents, in which tens of thousands died, overseen by a Labour Government with a big majority, with what exactly – the tuition fees issue in a Coalition Government?

    Perhaps you need to think a little more analytically about this & understand a little about the relative importance of what Labour did . It s a real insult to my intelligence to read nonsense like this.

  • Just wanted to point out, Simon Bahamonte, that the suggestion of Liberal Democrats scuppering the Tories’ policy on boundary changes has resulted not in an increased Liberal Democrat influence but the very real prospect of our losing the deals on those policies that we have managed to get into the agreement.

    Would it be brave to throw away everything that has been won, for the sake of what we agreed to defer until a later parliament?

    I wouldn’t say so. I would say it smacks of immaturity, wanting to have your cake and eat it. Exactly the flaw the Tories are showing right now with their inability to deliver on Lords reform.

    Of course, in the event that they do fail to deliver what we negotiated for, we must move on to thinking about dissolving the coalition and negotiating confidence and supply. But not before.

  • @Simon Bamonte
    “However, you say they throw their toys out of the pram when they come across things they don’t like – but they (the MPs and Lords) still vote for them”

    The trouble being Simon, it’s more to do with perception than action. If Lib Dems (from the top to bottom) keep moaning about everything the Tories do, then this sticks in the mind of the public and it doesn’t matter what action the individual MP takes.

    “Look at the many Tories who are now going to vote against Lords’ reform”
    I thought (at this stage anyway) that they were going to rebel against the timetable (I admit I could be wrong on that though). If that is the case then I have some sympathy with them as such a major change should be debated properly. I also realise that Government doesn’t operate on a “this or that” basis, but LDs have been making such a fuss about this that it probably will cause some to wonder if they have their priorities right.

    “They say they didn’t like voting with Tories on tuition fees, the dreaded NHS bill, welfare reform and the Jeremy Hunt vote – but they still went in, lined up and voted for them.”
    Well, for most of those I would say that it was a lack of ambition prior to the election, especially on the tuition fees fiasco. I was under the impression that the LDs abstained on Hunt, which again was hardly decisive – they should have either backed one of their Government (yes, it is your Government as well) or voted against.

    “That said, as an ex-LD I honestly have no idea what this party stands for any more.”
    If it’s any consolation, I’ve never had a firm view of what the Party stands for, after the election I was rather excited about the prospect of a coalition goverment so I started coming here more often, After 2 years I still don’t really “get” the LDs. 😉

    “Nobody I know trusts anything the Lib Dems say any longer, just like Labour lost all their trust after Iraq.”
    Which really highlights why you have to appear to be competent – even if you aren’t. Labour still managed to win after Iraq because they had the feel of competence about them, they lost this time because people no longer believed they were.

  • Paul Haydon. I like your piece very much, I agree with the sentiments you express. But the LibDems have lost the trust of voters (see Simon Bamonte above) and there will be no recovery from that for several years (in my opinion). The LIbDems DID ‘sort of’ object to some Conservative policies, but, guided by your leadership, when it came to votes, you as a party enthusiatically supported the policies and reputations of Messrs Lansley, Osborne, Duncan-Smith, Gove, Hague, Hunt and more….Your leadership – Messrs Clegg, Alexander, Laws, Huhn etc – are seen as C(c)onsevative by any other name. How can this be reversed? The truthful answer is that it cannot. The NHS has been ‘marketised’ with the enthusiastic support of the LibDems (notably Baroness Williams). How can you reverse that? We have seen Mr Clegg forcefully argue that a tripling of Tuition Fees is a much better deal for studenst than no Tuition Fees (is he serious?), how do you reverse that? The LibDems have, with the Tories, claimed that abolishing Education Maintenance Allowance was a ‘progressive’ move and would (somehow) help students. Again, are they serious, and how do you reverse such a faux pas? Those of us who voted LibDem have looked on in disbelief – how do you reverse that? We will have to wait until 2015 to see if the LibDems’ reputation can be restored!

  • Richard Dean 9th Jul '12 - 7:10pm

    Focus on the issues that VOTERS perceive to be the issues that matter

    Build clear lines of distinction that allo voters to distinguish between LibDems and other parties

    Become proactive, not reactive

  • “So you’re equating an illegal war, based on deliberately fabricated Government documents, in which tens of thousands died, overseen by a Labour Government with a big majority, with what exactly – the tuition fees issue in a Coalition Government?
    Perhaps you need to think a little more analytically about this …”

    Hmm. If you read the comment you were responding to a little more carefully, you’ll see he wasn’t making any such equation, just saying that the consequences were similar.

  • Nick (not Clegg) 9th Jul '12 - 8:50pm

    @ Colin W

    To say that “Nobody I know trusts anything the Lib Dems say any longer, just like Labour lost all their trust after Iraq.” is not to equate Iraq with tuition fees or, indeed, with any other issue or combination of issues

    Iraq was, for many people (not enough, actually; it did not cost them the next election) the issue which led them to stop trusting the Blair government. Tuition fees was one of a number of issues which led a number of former LibDem supporters to stop trusting your (and formerly my) party.

    Lack of trust may not, actually, be the problem. Arguably, very few people are now naive enough fully to trust any party or any politician. Your problem, now , as Paul Haydon suggests in his headline, is getting people to take you seriously. As he concludes, your problem is a loss of credibility. And that is a commodity which, once lost, is very hard to regain.

  • themanwithsalthair 9th Jul '12 - 10:13pm

    What exactly is the point of having an “identity as an essentially social-democratic, left-of-centre party”?

    Refugees who fled to our party due to the Iraq war have now returned home to Labour and that is probably the most appropriate place for them. I joined the party as a liberal and a statist party which stifles individual freedom and responsibility is not where I want to be.

  • paul barker 9th Jul '12 - 11:00pm

    I think the problem with us trying to understand the public/voters is that we are so weird. By we I dont just mean libdems, I mean everyone who reads political websites. Most people have almost no interest in politics & dont think about it unless theres a good reason. Again, for most answering the stupid questions of pollsters, local elections & referenda dont count as good reasons. Its almost impossible for people like us to get our heads round the voters sheer indifference & irresponsibility.
    The result is that polls, local elections, by-elections (mostly) & even holyrood & welsh assembly elections tell us very little about how people will vote at the next general election.
    Its true a lot of voters dont take us seriously but that is always true, especially between general elections. We have been here before. In 1989 everybody agreed that we were finished, I did myself. Everybody, including me were wrong.

  • Tony Dawson 9th Jul '12 - 11:14pm

    @ColinW:

    “So you’re equating an illegal war, based on deliberately fabricated Government documents, in which tens of thousands died, overseen by a Labour Government with a big majority, with what exactly – the tuition fees issue in a Coalition Government? Perhaps you need to think a little more analytically about this & understand a little about the relative importance of what Labour did .”

    But Simon did not equate these things in any way, shape or form. He was pointing out that people (including lots of good liberals) do not trust us because we have been found clearly wanting just as Labour were. That is the
    verdict of the people and the issues are frankly irrelevant. If you want to standon a soapbox and tell the people that they should not make decisions the way they have done you are not going to get elected anywhere any time soon.

    ” It s a real insult to my intelligence to read nonsense like this.”

    Then stop writing it, Colin. 😉

  • Ed Shepherd 9th Jul '12 - 11:24pm

    Back in the nineties and early 2000’s, the LibDem party attracted many votes from people who disliked the Thatcherite policies pursued by the Conservatives and by New Labour. The LibDems had some politicians who had popular appeal, people like Paddy Ashdown, Charles Kennedy and Simon Hughes. The LibDems seemed to promise some policies, like the extra penny on income tax, that promised better public services at small extra cost. This feeling probably reached it’s high point when the official line of the Conservatives and New Labour was to support the ill-advised Iraq War. Since entering government, the LibDems have enthusiastically pursued policies such as tuition fees, abolition of EMA and the Libyan War that have frightened off many of these casual supporters. The current LibDem leader seems rather over-priviliged (even other-wordly) and lacks the appeal of his predecessors. The idea of the LibDems as somehow different to the two big parties has now gone. That’s probably why parties such as Respect, Greens and the nationalists attract so many of the voters who once looked to the LibDems for an alternative. I don’t think the LibDems can ever attract those voters back again. This coalition was a chance for the LibDems to offer something to those voters looking for an alternative and it’s a chance that has been squandered.

  • I thought the talk back in the day was that a natural consequence of coalition would be that the Lib Dems would be taken seriously as a party of government. But no, the party has made a stand on things that the public don’t care about (Lords reform) yet keel over on issues such as the NHS (which I suspect may become a massive issue over the next couple of years as things start to go wrong).

    You talk about presenting a ‘credible choice’ come 2015, but the failure of the coalition on the one issue that was meant to come before all others (deficit reduction), suggests that the party will still be tied to the Tories in some way by that point. Clegg can hardly distance himself now from all the rhetoric that the government has spewed on the economy since coming to power – any alternative to Osborne’s ‘plan’ will not now seem credible, or compatible with everything Lib Dem ministers have been saying since 2010.

    Also, you seem to be suggesting a move away from the differentiation strategy as a way to present this credible choice to the electorate. Actually, any floating voter who ends up being impressed by this government’s ‘achievements’ by the time of the next election will just vote Tory, if you follow that strategy – differentiation came too late, and too timidly, but it’s still the only chance for survival.

  • There can be no idea of being taken seriously, when we learn in today’s Independent, in an extract from a book by Nicholas Timms,”How the coalition carved up the NHS”, that the car crash that is the NHS and Social care Act, was literally drawn up on the back of an envelope by Oliver Letwin and Danny Alexander, people with no expertise in Health, who even in their arrogance, declined help from civil servants in drawing up the legislation.
    Had Danny Alexander not been a Comunications officer for the Cairngorms, until recently and how much experience of the English NHS had he, in practice.?
    This is very depressing reading, indeed, as it shows people who are totally out of their depth, thrust in to power and in a position to bring in totally umnandated and unwanted legislation, opposed by majority public and professional opinion.

  • Paul in Twickenham 10th Jul '12 - 7:44am

    It seems to me that people in Britain don’t “get” coalition government and that the Liberal Democrats don’t know how to respond.

    Today’s Guardian editorial – about the current Lords reform fiasco – is stuffed with highly partisan comments that are positively virulent about the Liberal Democrats. It is a perfectly good, logical position that coalition means giving way on manifesto promises. However you can say it until you’re blue in the face and people will still accuse you of lying. Many people who voted Lib Dem in 2010 will never do so again.

    Equally, the party’s campaign managers made a disastrous decision on 2010 – they singled out student fees from the manifesto and built a national campaign around a promise to not raise fees. There is now much analysis that shows that the actual system that has been produced is much better than many might have predicted. However you can say it until you’re blue in the face and people will still accuse you of lying. Many students who voted Lib Dem in 2010 will never do so again.

    And finally, the party’s leadership were so determined to prove that coalition could work that they refused to criticize the Conservatives at all in the first 18 months or so. The perception was of weakness – or worse still a Lib Dem leadership that was a bunch of closet Tories. You can now bleat endlessly about the evils of the Tory right but the public perception of Nick Clegg as a Tory poodle is burned into the public consciousness. Many Labour tactical votes will never vote Lib Dem again.

    I fear that the reason why there is a perception that the Lib Dems are no longer a credible, serious political force is that it is true.

  • Paul in Twickenham. Sadly, I have to aggree; you have described the situation with precision and accuracy.

  • I think the problem is that I, naively perhaps, regarded the Lib Dems as being to the left of New Labour.
    Certainly all the campaigning information I received in Cambridge prior to the general election was more “democratic” than “liberal” in its presentation.
    Whilst my MP seems like a “proper” Lib Dem I cannot support a party where the likes of David Laws and Danny Alexander are economic spokesmen.

  • Paul Haydon.. this discussion should be at the centre of our Brighton conference programme. Recognising that many of the comments on here come from party opponents stops me from getting depressed. eg quoting an author who clearly has other loyalties as though he was somehow a reliable source of info, is as bad as looking at polling statistics that were produced for one of Murdoch’s papers. I for one am proud of Nick Clegg, he is doing an excellent job in difficult circumstances, and the coalition have achieved some amazing progress on things that really matter. But sadly the right wing of the Tory party(some of whom should join UKIP, BNP or EDL) are tugging Cameron’s lead and undermining progress. Meanwhile the opportunist Labour lot with their short memories, an adversarial Commons chamber, a voting system that was designed for a bygone era, a media who still can’t understand how coalition works, and a press who will hype anything to make a headline story.. and they call it ‘democracy’?

  • I believe that unless the Health and Social Care Act can be repealed (yes repealed) the LibDems will face electoral disaster at the next election. In my part of the world Serco has been awarded the contract for community health services. As far as I can tell nobody wants this, and more importantly (in electoral terms) nobody voted for this. I believe that the LIbDem’s support for the Tories’ Health and Social Care Bill, now Act, was the by far the biggest error of their time in coalition. Forget the Fees, or Jeremy Hunt, or House of Lords reform, for the LibDems and the Tories also, the marketisation of the NHS is the killer. Every bad patient experience from now on, every shortfall in NHS staff, in fact every concievable problem in the health service in future will be blamed on the ‘profit motive’ and ‘shareholder priorities’. And the LibDems will be blamed. After the next General Election I think Mr Clegg and Baronness Williams wil have some answering to do.

  • Cllr John Kiely 10th Jul '12 - 3:51pm

    When you talk to ordinary people, their dislike of Nick Clegg is at a very irrational level, sadly when a leader loses credibility and ability to articulate an argument with the public then for me there is only one obvious outcome. We need to elect someone urgently who will be listened to by public, Nick Clegg is a busted flush in my opinion and if we continue the way we are going there won’t much of a party left to lead.

  • @Simon Banks
    “As for the boundary changes and Lords issue, it may seem childish,”

    I feel it’s childish as there was no agreement for Lords Reform (as I seem to be repeating parrot fashion at the moment), therefore there could not be a broken agreement as it did not exist. There was agreement to set up a committee and bring forward proposals, that has been done. There was an agreement (tied together) for an AV referendum and boundary reform.

    ” but if you enter into an agreement and your partner fails to deliver on part of it, do you just accept that with a shrug or do you make them realise there are proportionate consequences for things you’ve unwillingly accepted as part of the deal?”

    As it seems that the LDs are currently discussing the possibility of breaking the agreement, do you think the CP should shrug their shoulders or do something about it to make you realise that there are consequences?

  • @chris_sh
    Some level of common sense needs be applied to the interpretation of any document. If you make an agreement to bring forward proposals there is a clear implication you will proceed to implement them. Otherwise what would be the point in developing them in the first place? If you want to play silly games here is another one for you – find me the section of the coalition agreement which states explicitly that Lib Dems are required to vote for the boundary review.

  • @AndrewR

    Oh for heavens sake –
    “Some level of common sense needs be applied to the interpretation of any document.”
    As long as that common sense suits the criteria of the rosette you wear of course.

    “If you want to play silly games here is another one for you”
    So you class it all as silly games do you – so I’ll ask you the same question as I asked Simon:

    As it seems that the LDs are currently discussing the possibility of breaking the agreement, do you think the CP should shrug their shoulders or do something about it to make you realise that there are consequences?

  • You can’t easily counter a perception that’s based on facts — not, at least, without a lot of blatantly false propaganda. The fact is that the Liberal Democrats consistently poll around 10% and have done so for about a year. This does not give them a lot of political weight or political capital. It may seem unfair that this creates a vicious circle — low popularity feeding a poor public image feeding low clout in government feeding back to low popularity — but such is the case. The one consolation is that the Lib Dems seem to have already hit rock bottom; the bad side is that there’s no obvious way of breaking out of the circle, at least without a drastic change in circumstances. Lib Dems are just in for a rough three years, and no amount of ‘messaging’ will help.

  • Simon Bamonte 11th Jul '12 - 12:00am

    @ColinW:

    Of course I am not equating the Iraq war with the act of breaking a promise on tuition fees. I am, however, equating the point at which political leaders (Blair with Iraq, Clegg with fees) completely lost their trust with the electorate.

    @chris_sh: “As it seems that the LDs are currently discussing the possibility of breaking the agreement, do you think the CP should shrug their shoulders or do something about it to make you realise that there are consequences?”

    The problem with this is that the Tories have already broken the Coalition agreement at least once, arguably twice. Once with the personal involvement of Cameron in the “yes to AV” vote and possibly secondly with the NHS reforms which went way beyond what was agreed at the time. It was discussed here how they broke the agreement then, but our MPs didn’t seem to care. I think it’s time the LDs remind the Tories that they cannot govern without them.

  • @Simon Bamonte
    “The problem with this is that the Tories have already broken the Coalition agreement at least once, arguably twice. Once with the personal involvement of Cameron in the “yes to AV” vote and possibly secondly with the NHS reforms which went way beyond what was agreed at the time. ”

    There was no agreement on involvement in AV so that is a non-starter. The second may have merit (but I seem to recall that some of the heat generated here was because your MPs supported it – so perhaps you both broke the agreement), but as others have implied, you’ll look pretty silly breaking the agreement over something that wasn’t in the CA when you backed the NHS change.

    Incidentally, I assume that you are on about the “We will stop the top-down reorganisations of the NHS” bit of the agreement, it should be remembered that this wasn’t even in your manifesto (nor the CP one I think) and that you were planning top down change (as were the CP), which may explain why your MPs did what they did?

  • Mohammad Rahman 11th Jul '12 - 6:19pm

    I am a doctor (i,e. middle class voter). People from my socio demographic background voted Lib Dem in droves in the last election . Let’s see what Lib Dems have done about the things that mattered to me:

    Tuition Fee: nuff said. Score: solid -ve.

    Publicly funded NHS: I don’t have crystal ball, but I have worked in the NHS more days than Nick Clegg, Andrew Lansley and Shirley Williams combined. So, you can have a degree of confidence when I say, Lansley’s bill will be a slow burn disaster. Without Lib Dems supporting, this bill could not have gone through. Score: solid -ve.

    War in other countries: What Gaddafi was doing was abhorrent — but no more than Saudi Arabia, Jordan — our so called ‘friends’. We are a rich country, but we also have large commitment to our citizens. We need not spent so much money on fighting a war, which didn’t need us. Score: neutral to -ve.

    Europe: Tories may like to America’s poodles, but I see no shared values between us and Americans — other than ancient histories and desire to invade other people’s country. Think how different our values are on immigrants, universal healthcare as a human rights issue, capital punishment, social benefits, personal responsibility, religiousness, etc etc. With the rise of new world powers, we need to align with someone, and people we have most in common with are Europeans. Yet, we are moving further away from Europe, which will invariably bring us closer to USA, and poodle transformation will be complete. Score: -ve.

    Banking: We may all forget it now, but before the election Vince the Cable, was the man! I expected more from Lib Dems. All the government seem to be doing is saying ‘outrageous’ ‘unacceptable’ ‘how dare they’. You don’t need to be in the government to express your indignations. I have seen no substantial changes yet — other than breaking up the banks into ‘casino’ and ‘retail’ parts, but that’s still haven’t been implemented: neutral to -ve

    Constitutional changes: good effort, but insufficient use of leverage/strategy. Score: +ve to neutral.

    I know Lib Dems also done some other good things: tax reform at the bottom etc, which are good things indeed. However, they matter little to me as a high earner. So, there you go — this is my (not comprehensive) score card. Would I vote for Lib Dems again? Not in a million years. I would have voted Labour and got far more things out of them — thank you.

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