"Is the coalition becoming a merger? My take in tomorrow's Daily Telegraph"So, given Chelsea FC could only manage a three - three draw against Aston Villa, then the Edinburgh Capitals got thrashed eight - nil, I was in a foul mood and responded as below to Fraser Nelson;
"No it bloody well isn't, they are two different registered political parties, why oh why are journalists obsessed with this?"Now, I have eaten and sat down and read Fraser's piece in full again, I will now respond to the main points of his article to be seen in
The first part I object to is this line about Nick Clegg's New Year Message;
It was directed not at the country but at his remaining party activists.How patronising, "remaining party activists", to be perfectly honest the Liberal Democrats have seen a massive surge in our membership figures (16.4% in Scotland alone) and the numbers of people coming forward to help our MPs, MEPs, MSPs and candidates still continues to grow, each and every day.
Well Fraser, the reason it was not directed at the country but at the tens of thousands of Liberal Democrat Members, is because it was intended that way - you can read Nick Clegg's New Year Message yourself.
Nelson then goes on to list just a few of the achievements that the Liberal Democrats secured within the Coalition Government - obviously he is not pleased that 800,000 have been lifted out of paying any income tax at all or that the pupil premium guarantees children from disadvantaged backgrounds will receive more funding through their school years?
The article then goes on to say;
"At least a third of their supporters have defected and they expect to be routed in the May elections. Losing the referendum on changing the voting system to AV would compound the misery."Sorry Fraser, a third of our supporters have not defected, on what evidence do you base this particular comment on?
"No matter how hard he tries to portray his party as the good guys in a two-party coalition, voters are not buying it. This looks, talks and walks like a merger."
He then goes on to say;
"When the Lib Dems were in coalition with Labour in the Scottish Parliament, they kept their own identity and party structures. In Westminster, though, Cameron seems to have led the two parties into a political blender and flicked the "on" switch. The spin teams are integrated, nearly every department is run jointly, and virtually all the Lib Dem MPs have a government job."
The Party structure has not changed for the Liberal Democrats and nor are there any plans for it to do so - sorry Fraser, another part of your article that is wrong.
When you say virtually all the Lib Dems have a government job, you mean virtually all apart from Mike Crockart MP, Jenny Willott MP, etc etc in fact only 18 of the 57 are on the government payroll - that really is not virtually all have a government job - let us have some honesty here.
I accept there are some PPS roles etc that I have missed, but those jobs are not government paid jobs.
Fraser also says the spin teams are integrated, yes the government aspects do work together such as the Special Advisers but the Liberal Democrats have an independent press team based in Cowley Street, who are not managed by the government - so once again not entirely correct.
The article then drifts towards the Oldham East and Saddleworth by-election which has been called after disgraced former Labour MP Phil Woolas was found guilty by two High Court judges of knowingly lying to voters in a last-ditch bid to hold his seat at the General Election.
The article states;
The by-election is dangerous for the Lib Dems because it asks two horribly awkward questions: if you support Cameron's Government, why vote Lib Dem? And if you oppose it, why vote Lib Dem?
I assume from this weirdly worded line that Fraser Nelson has yet to visit the constituency?
The reason I say this is when I was doing some telephone canvassing there, not one person mentioned either of those points, they mentioned the fact that Labour had lied to them last time round, they are worried about the debts Labour have left behind and also the fact that Labour have gone back on their promise of new health centres for Saddleworth and Shaw & Crompton.
Fraser, I'm sorry but the priorities you have for the voters of Oldham East & Saddleworth seem to be worlds away to those that actually live and work there and I think what they say on January 13th will be more important than what you write.
The article then goes on;
If today's opinion polls were tomorrow's election result, the 57-strong group of Lib Dem MPs would be reduced to a rump of just 13 membersAs everyone knows, opinion polls are never perfect indicators of what actually happens in an election. Since my arrival in Scotland as the Deputy Director of Campaigns the opinion polls and journalists predicted that we would lose the Lib Dem MEP in 2008 and that we would go from 12 to 5 MPS in the general election.
George Lyon is an excellent hard working MEP, fighting Scotland's corner in Europe because we didn't lose our MEP and our eleven MPs continue to work hard on behalf of their constituents and three of them are now part of the coalition government - because we lost just one seat at the election, a seat we had held for a few years since the by-election.
My point is that opinion polls and journalists predictions must be taken with a pinch of salt.
Fraser Nelson summates with this point;
A merger with the Tories is emerging as the best chance most Lib Dem MPs have to keep their seats.I have never read such nonsense in all my life, I used to respect what Fraser wrote but this silly tripe is as far from reality as flying cars.
The two parties are registered with the Electoral Commission as two separate parties for a reason, because that is exactly what they are. We have separate HQ's because we are separate organisations and Fraser for what it's worth we will continue to remain separate and different forever more.
It doesn't matter how many times journalists make up nonsense of splits and mergers and opposition politicians try and woo our members all they do is show Nick Clegg, me and the Lib Dem activists the length and breadth of the UK that they do not understand how the Liberal Democrats work and operate and that they are no nearer to understanding that now than they were when the party was formed.