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Thursday, 11 November 2010

Ten tips for the Liberal Democrats - members, voters and activists alike

Contrary to what many believe, the Lib Dems were right to choose coalition, and can remain a distinctive force.

Julian Glover writes for The Guardian.

Liberal Democrats are not short of advice. Mostly from outsiders. Mostly from people who find it odd that anyone should choose to be a Lib Dem activist and who never expected to see the party in power. Naturally, they see the coalition as an aberration and many expect it to fail.

Here, in no particular order, are 10 thoughts as to how Lib Dems might prove the doubters wrong, as they consider their identity and try to establish a distinctive message.

1) Don't panic. There is no crisis. Don't believe people who tell you that there is. The polls are poor, not catastrophic – 16% in the last Guardian/ICM survey is the same as the party scored in early 2009. The Lib Dem conference was the calmest and most successful of the three. Most Lib Dems believe that joining the coalition was the right thing to do – which isn't the same as approving of all its consequences. There's an impressive determination to make it work. What's striking is not the scale of dissent – but how little there is.

2) However, there is a Nick problem. It's partly unavoidable, but all those pictures of Nick Clegg sitting alongside David Cameron at PMQs and slapping George Osborne on the back have stopped reassuring us that the coalition is real and started reminding us he looks like a Tory. Or, if not that, then just another politician. He's got to take care not to be a backdrop to Cameron. He needs to find causes of his own. Get out of the bubble. Do real things. Don't get downhearted or isolated by hostile coverage.

3) Oh, and win the AV referendum. It's not impossible. And if not that, then at least win the public over to coalition government. It's happening: voters like co-operation and they see the Lib Dems as a moderating force. In 2015 the message should be: like the coalition and want it to continue? Then you'll have to vote Lib Dem.

For points 4 to 10, please read Julian Glover's full piece at The Guardian website HERE.

My advice in Scotland is do not write our party off, we are fighting and will not just roll over as people like Jim Murphy believe.  Write us off at your peril.

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