The Futility Monster

He'll pointlessly derive more enjoyment out of your resources than you

Conference Call

Posted by The Futility Monster on September 22, 2009 @ 06:44

Does Bournemouth really look like that? I wouldn't know...

Does Bournemouth really look like that? I wouldn't know...

It would be wrong of me to let the Lib Dem Conference pass without some comment on the kind of things that have been coming out of it since it started. After all, it’s ending tomorrow!

The first point of “excitement” to the media came when Nick Clegg downgraded the tuition fee policy to no more than an aspiration. That got Charles Kennedy a little worked up when he suggested it may damage the “heart” of the Lib Dems.

The one worry I have about this change of party position is that it has been justified by the terrible economic position the country is in. But, in fact, one could justify tearing apart the entirety of Lib Dem policy on the basis of the recession.

No… there is something suspicious about it. After all, there have been rumours in the past that senior Lib Dems have been trying to distance themselves from the policy. It now almost seems too convenient that it has been one of the first policies placed on the bonfire as a victim of the credit crunch.

It’s the same feeling that I have when I hear Cameron talking about cuts. I suspect he is a “cutter” by instinct anyway, like most of the Tory party. They’ve been desperate to give the public sector a serious slashing ever since they left office. Now they’ll be able to do it with the most wonderful of covers provided by an economic backdrop that no one can deny.

I fully expect other Lib Dem priorities that are a little costly to join tuition fee abolition on the shelf.

My real problem though is what it does to future recruitment of the party. If we want to grow, we must continue to work hard on the youngest generations, the students and youth, to convince them to choose us. Catch ’em while they’re young, they say. It worked for me.

Meanwhile, other policy planks have included the over £1m property tax… which I think is broadly a good idea. It was quite amusing to watch Andrew Neil yesterday try to defend the poor, downtrodden elderly who might, unbeknownst to them, be sitting on a property goldmine. I don’t think these people actually exist other than in the minds of our opponents on this policy. And even if they do, they will be able to escape paying it as that’s part of the plan.

Then there’s a little something today which might just be a game-changer. Are we really going to call for an end to the Afghanistan war? That’s what the headlines are going to say even if the detail is much more complex. The public would be on our side for sure. But it’s one of the most difficult international issues we’re going to face in the modern era. I really don’t know what the right answer is.

Otherwise, conference hasn’t been all that exciting. A frippery here or there on airbrushing, raising pay of soldiers, some “savage” cuts… it’s all much of a muchness for Lib Dems these days.

But hey, I guess that’s what Conference is all about. It’s not really about selling policy to political geeks like me. It’s about trying to get some airtime for the party’s agenda to the people who are switched off from it most of the year.

The jury’s still out on that one…

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2 Responses to “Conference Call”

  1. vornstyle said

    Out of interest, how exactly did the Lib Dems “get” you?

  2. Iraq, mainly. I’ve always been pretty socially liberal, and the more repressive New Labour got the more I turned my back on them. Now I can’t see any better option!

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