Twelve months of Lib Dems in government, and what has been achieved in the areas of policy that really matter to the public ?
Many senior Lib Dems and those who are regularly wheeled out to defend the party like Evan Harris and Simon Hughes, together with the uber loyal blogs and websites that defend the party at all costs, read out a long list of achievements which are, in truth, utterly unimportant to the man on the street or the voter on the doorstep.
Having just gone through a local election campaign as a sitting councillor, I thought it a good idea to summarise the arguments and issues that people wanted to talk about on the doorstep.
Forget arguments of presentation, style and spin. The fundamentals are that we have failed to deliver anything concrete ourselves that people can genuinely say will make them vote Lib Dem.
Free schools (a Tory policy), a pupil premium (again Tory policy) with little in the way of new cash, and the pointless bashing of schools with thee arbitrary raising of floor targets for Key Stage 2 SATs, with no rational reason given to schools why targets would be raised JUST 8 weeks before the SATs tests. the cuts in school sports funding, which were ill thought out, are already biting deep.
Budgets for 6th Form colleges under pressure. Less places available, EMA scrapped, no Lib Dem achievements.
Tuition Fees raised (Tory Policy). No acheivements for the Lib Dems to crow about.
Reforms announced that are neither supported by the Lib Dems or the medical profession. Hardly looks good to suddenly notice you have a policy that is hated by everyone except the Tory Party.
Extremely difficult cuts for many council, rather easier cuts for many Tory councils.
Although left a legacy of stupid purchases by the Labour government, it seems odd to be cutting conventional forces like aircraft carriers when there is a real need for them at the moment, whilst keeping the option of a Trident replacement on the table (again, a Tory policy).
Whilst some of the poorest have been taken out of taxation (the only Lib Dem success that anyone told me about on the doorstep), this is balanced against the rise in VAT which the Lib Dems campaigned against last year. Are those shouts of hypocrisy I hear ?
We argued last year that if we cut too fast and too deep, it would damage the economy and might cause a double dip recession. The fact that we have abandoned this view and backed the Tories deeper faster cuts cuts no ice with voters. Those who support this policy give credit to the Tories. Those who oppose it blame the Lib Dems.
We got a referendum on a system we didn't want, looked silly for backing AV which we didn't like, then lost anyway. Stupid, hapless and incompetent.
We treat politics like a debate at the Oxford Union and in doing so treat the electorate like fools. The party cannot keep blaming style or bad publicity for the public's failure to give us a pat on the back for our role in the coalition. The public GET what we have done, we should not take them as fools. The truth is, voters in the main, don't like it. The only ones who do like what we are doing, which in essence is to be a Tory Party lite, are Tories, and why should they go for the lite version when the normal full version of the Tories is available ?