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Sunday, March 06, 2011

The big picture

Andrew Rawnsley in today's Observer has an interesting perspective on where the Liberal Democrats currently are:

In terms of the big picture, Mr Clegg is right to argue with his party that it would be a mistake to respond to adversity by changing the broad strategy. It would look opportunistic, unconvincing and panicky if they suddenly tried to put distance between themselves and government policies that they have signed up to. It would poison the coalition. If it precipitated a collapse of the government, the Lib Dems would be hurled into an early general election at which they would be eviscerated. It would also be bad long-term politics. The bleakest scenario for the Lib Dems is that they suffer all the present unpopularity of the cuts only for the Tories to enjoy the gains if and when the government rebounds. That has been the fate of some junior coalition partners on the continent.

There has been a precipitous plunge in Nick Clegg's personal poll ratings for trust. One consolation is an uptick in his ratings for decisiveness and resilience. Another is that people continue to place him in the centre of the political spectrum, the location where most voters put themselves. That is the glimmer of light for his party. Their best hope is to win credit if the coalition is broadly seen to have been a success by the time of the next election. By demonstrating that they are no longer a wasted vote and can be credible wielders of power, the Lib Dems may then find a new constituency among centre-ground and swing voters, including some who have not taken them seriously in the past and have reluctantly voted Labour or Tory instead because they didn't believe the Lib Dems had a chance.

Is that an impossible aspiration for them? I don't believe so. But to have a hope of realising that dream, they will first have to hold together through many months which will be nightmarish. The darker it gets, the more they will need to keep whistling that tune.

It is fair to say that this is not a view shared by those commenting on the article but then that is par for the course these days.
Keep up the good work and interesting posts. You've helped out my gran a few times which local matters thanks for your work in Swansea!
The only thing that would be worse than keeping the coalition going now would be causing it to collapse.
Agreed with the previous poster. I dont agree a lot with Peter Black but you cannot fault his commitment to his constituents. I would vote for him but not the Party.
Unfortunately, when you come to vote in the Assembly elections then you will need to vote for the Welsh Liberal democrats to vote for me. That is because I am a list candidate and no names appear on the list ballot paper. A vote for the the Welsh Liberal Democrats on that paper would be a vote to re-elect me as an AM.
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