Tuesday, 23 September 2003

"Fuzzy" Liberals

According to that disastrous politician Shirley Williams, formerly of the Labour Party and now LibDem leader in the Lords, her current party's image is unclear:
"We are still too fuzzy. Our central themes are not clear enough and not obvious enough to the public," she told a fringe meeting at the party conference."
Party leader Charles Kennedy agrees and thinks "something should be done":
He said voters were looking for the party to produce a more "robust" agenda. "We have to put more detailed policy flesh on the bones of our approach," he added.
I think this is quite wrong.

The strength of the Liberal Democrats is their image as a kind of unthreatening middle-of-the road party, attractive to dissident Tory and Labour voters alike. Appearing to have no policies is good, or rather having a policy to suit every interest group is better as Tory councillor Brian Meek has noted:

..... in the local elections last May there was a proposal to close off an Edinburgh road which had become a rat-run for drivers. The problem was the residents were divided about whether this was a good idea.

The LibDems had the ideal solution. In the part of the street for the closure they put out a leaflet supporting such action. At the other end of the road they issued a leaflet opposing the plan.

And it's not only in Scotland that the LibDems perform this trick:
The constituency of Cheadle, in the Stockport area, has a female LibDem MP who told the local paper last month that she was fully in support of foundation status for Stepping Hill Hospital. Days before, at Westminster, she voted against the idea of foundation status for any hospital in the country.
If I were asked to advise the Liberal Democrats, I would tell them to retain their "fuzziness" for as long as possible. It wouldn't do for them to be outed as a group of politically correct, tax-and-spend, nanny-statists who besmirch that grand old word "liberal".