Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Liberal Democrats, social mobility and the perils of being a centre party

Nick Clegg had an article in the Daily Telegraph responding to the publication of Alan Milburn's report on social mobility.

It was not a bad article, but the passage that all the other news outlets picked up and gave prominence (and which was presumably spun to them) was the one where Nick claimed the report makes:
debatable assertions, about the appropriate balance of fiscal consolidation between different age groups, for example – punishing pensioners isn't going to help a single child achieve more in life.
Alliteration is often a bad sign in politicians, and "punishing pensioners" is not an exception to that rule.

The problem here is that Nick is instinctively a reformer, yet his first reaction to a serious piece of work on perhaps the most important problem facing the country is to emphasise what will not change.

I suspect that the problem here is his often-declared strategy of making the Liberal Democrats a centre party. Because being such a party can easily turn you into the champions of the status quo and thus the opponent of anyone who proposes radical reforms.

And, as so often, I wonder who Nick expects to vote Liberal Democrat next time.

On average the younger generations are the most Liberal and the older generations are the least. Yet here the leader of a Liberal party hurries to rule out any idea of helping the struggling younger generations at the expense of wealthier members of the older ones.

Maybe Nick reasons that the debacle over tuition fees means we now have little appeal to younger voters, but I am still struggling to understand the political logic here.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

If there was ever a moment to say "this is why we need radical change" it is on hearing that 1 million children are living in poverty despite having one parent who is in full term work