Conservative Home uses the arrival of Lib Dem conference to argue that the problem with the party is that: No-one likes them, and they do care
Part of that waking up process is the acceptance that quite often government involves doing things that some people don’t like. Suddenly, when your job involves deciding to support one policy or another rather than supporting both in different leaflets across the country at the same election, you can be pinned down. You have to be one thing, not all things, to voters – and you have to take responsibility your decisions.
This is I am afraid little more than self-congratulatory wishful thinking from someone who fancies himself to belong to a ‘serious’ party.
Power does indeed tend to take its toll on the popularity of the parties that wield it. If you look at the results of past General Elections you do see that the party in power tends to lose votes and seats. However, none has done so at the level that polls are indicating the Lib Dems have. This is more than the conventional disillusion with power though that presumably plays a part.
Our friend at Conservative Home would have us believe that the problem for Lib Dems is that power has exposed the uniquely contradictory nature of the party. This is nonsense. Labour and Tory activists will frequently bleat about contradictory Lib Dem leaflets. But one will search in vain for Lib Dems espousing different policies in different places. What you get is that different issues and different policies are emphasised in different areas. While such a strategy may offend political pugilists in the main parties who want to reduce everything to a left-right clash, their rage tends to ignore the fact that this is a natural tactic that their own parties reguarly engage in. All political parties are coalitions with internal contradictions that are prone to trade clarity for a broad appeal – “tough on crime, tough on the causes of crime” anyone?
It is not implementing Lib Dem policies that have made the party unpopular but Tory ones. I’ve spoken to a regrettably large number of former Lib Dems since the creation of the coalition and I don’t recall a single one objecting to a policy position we held before 2010. Rather they object to the party’s part in implementing Tory policies like raising tuition fees and trying to eliminate the deficit in a single parliament.
The uncomfortable fact for Conservatives surveying the current unpopularity of the Lib Dems is that it is the result of their current association with the most toxic brand in British politics – the Tories.