Tuesday, 5 January 2010

The credibility gap

Posted on This is My Truth on January 5th

I feel sorry for the Liberal Democrats. Why aren't they taken more seriously?

In the Times this morning Nick Clegg has outlined some very attractive key election pledges:

No income tax to be paid on the first £10,000 you earn
Cutting class sizes and provide more one-to-one tuition to children by introducing a new “pupil premium” in our schools (he fails to make clear this applies to England only).
Measures to boost the Green economy, including tens of thousands of new jobs in public transport, a national programme of home insulation and new social housing.
Political reform through recall elections, PR, devolution and a ban on tax avoiders standing for Parliament, sitting in the House of Lords or donating to political parties.
But as ever Nick Clegg's appearance on the Today programme was dominated about questions on what he'd do in a hung Parliament. I fell into that trap too when I was a political interviewer. It never takes long to get round to a variation of the 'what's the point of voting for you' question. It must frustrate the hell out of the Lib Dems, and so it should. It is pedestrian journalism.

But it reflects an ambivalence amongst the public towards the third party (or does it simply feed it?). The Party's poll numbers have been flat for some time, and the resurgance of the Conservative Party threatens a number of their seats. After a rough time for both of the two largest parties why haven't the Lib Dems done better?

The platform set out by Nick Clegg is an appealing one. Surely those on the left can rally around that flag? So why the ambivalence?

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