TO Liverpool and the Lib Dem conference: there’s an ash grey sky over Merseyside this morning, makes me yearn for the sun on Bournemouth’s hilly seafront last year. This year, with an election gone rather than ahead of us, it will be interesting to see whether the enthusiasm seen on the south coast among Lib Dem members in Camden and Islington last time is still in tact after the forming of the coalition government with the Conservatives.
I also wonder what some local members think of Nick Clegg’s comments in The Independent on Saturday:
I totally understand that some of these people are not happy with what the Lib Dems are doing in coalition with the Conservatives. The Lib Dems never were and aren’t a receptacle for left-wing dissatisfaction with the Labour Party. There is no future for that; there never was.
Thing is, there certainly have been voters in Camden who have turned to the Lib Dems as a “receptacle for left-wing dissatisfaction”. Fatigued old lefties told me earlier this year that they had been impressed by Ed Fordham’s campaign in Hampstead and Kilburn for instance. There were Labour members, who might not admit it now and Fordham may chuckle about it, who began to see Ed as a credible left-of-Labour candidate. Jo Shaw had a similar vein running through her campaign against in the south of the borough. How else do you wrench parliamentary seats from MPs like Frank Dobson and Glenda Jackson?
I’m not saying that Ed and Jo were waving red flags on the doorstep or reading passages from Michael Foot’s manifesto. I just know, whether through misinterpretation by the electorate or not, a significant number of voters began thinking of the Lib Dems as left wing do-gooders, a belief that was wrecked when they later dealt with the Tories.
I’d be interested to know on Merseyside today where members in Camden see the the Lib Dems on the political spectrum now – and whether the place they think the party is at is where they want it to be. Please, no answers beginning with: “I don’t think its helpful to be trying to position people in brackets between left and right…”