Monday, November 21, 2011

Preventing the Tories' worst excesses is not enough

Some Lib Dem bloggers are taking comfort from a post by on Politics Home by Paul Waugh. On Friday he wrote:
judging from today's evidence, it's clear that the Lib Dem brakes on the Tories are as effective today as they were back in the distant days of May 2010. 
In just three hours, we've had three different examples today of the way the Libs are constraining Tory ambitions.
Those examples were the abolition of the 50p tax rate, the passing of more laws against strikes and the implementation of Lord Beecroft's proposals to make it easier for employers to sack people.

Now don't get me wrong. I love upsetting the Tory right. Seeing my party stopping its cherished plans being put into practice gives me great pleasure.

But there are two reasons why the Liberal Democrats need ambitions beyond this.

The first is that by thwarting their right wing we are helping the Conservatives.

The right, of course, are convinced that their ideas would be wildly popular. It is one of the paradoxes of politics that the more extreme people's views are the more inclined they are to think that the bulk of voters support them. This is why Conservative Home has called its campaign against Cameronism "majority Conservatism".

But, as Michael Heseltine observed of Beecroft's ideas, "You don't want to make life rougher and tougher for large numbers of people you want to vote for you."

So by blocking the loonier ideas of his right wing we are helping Cameron's popularity with the voters and thus his chances of winning the next election.

The second reason why blocking the Tory right is not enough is that the Lib Dems should have positive achievements of which to boast from five years in government.

So let's point to the taking out of tax of low earners, extra funding for poor pupils or some of the other policies from our manifesto that we have been told are being put into practice.

Because if the voters are that keen on stopping the Tories doing too much come the next election, they may decide that the simplest way to bring that about is to vote Labour.


Dan Falchikov said...

Well said. The sort of knee-jerk anti-Toryism beloved of the social Liberal Forum and Tim Farron has not actually imporved the party's position since they came to the fore:

dreamingspire said...

Agree with Dan.

Mark Pack said...

I quite like the phrase someone made on Facebook after I'd made a similar point to you Jonathan - they said that we should aspire just to be the brakes but also the engine.

David said...

That would be me, Mark. (Like any politician) I repeat it on every possible occasion. The first time was at a Yeovil constituency meeting just before Autumn Conference and I thought David Laws hadn't noticed until I saw him repeat the phrase in the Sun a week later.