Tuesday, July 06, 2010

Are Liberal Democrat backbench policy committees the answer?

I know a Liberal Democrat MP (now a government minister, as it happens) who claimed to discourage the circulation of party policy documents in his constituency. ("They only upset people.")

But then our MPs have rarely been in the forefront of policy development. When I was on the Federal Policy Committee we used to get a little frustrated that the parliamentary party did not play a more enthusiastic role in our affairs.

For this reason I am not convinced that the committees announced by Nick Clegg (Lib Dem Voice has the list of chairs, which was released earlier today) are the answer to keeping Liberal Democrat thinking and a separate identity alive while we are in coalition.

Those are certainly two important jobs, but it is easy to see these committees descending into grumbling shops for MPs and peers who are disaffected from the coalition. To avoid this they need to involve thinkers from elsewhere in the party and beyond the party.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

I'm not so sure - I remain cautiously optimistic regarding the chances of backbench restraint. Today at least. I think leaving previously busy hands idle would have been the greater mistake. But broader input to the committees would certainly be a good thing!