Saturday 10 April 2010

It's good being a Liberal Democrat

I was at Norman Baker's adoption meeting last night. He was introduced by Lord Oakeshott who told us what we knew already – that Norman has been a fantastic MP both in the constituency and in Parliament, and will continue to be a fantastic MP if he is re-elected. Lord Oakeshott had some words for us about not letting the Tories in on the back of dislike of Brown, replacing one bad lot with another. I particularly liked his line about not wanting to have a Chancellor on work experience (an original Oakeshott line, though one he's used before). To get Norman back in we have to overcome the standard Tory tactics of throwing money at a seat. Despite not having Lord Ashcroft's money, this not counting as a marginal, we are up against a very well funded Tory candidate with over £200,000 raised in the last two years. We compete with enthusiasm, good people, good policies and endless foot slogging.

It feels better than ever to be a Liberal Democrat at the moment. I have a wonderful MP, now candidate, to campaign for. I have an excellent set of policies to sell to voters on the doorstep. I can talk about genuine fairness, I can talk about properly thought through and funded tax proposals, I can talk about decent proposals for schools and hospitals.

I can talk about a great team. Nick Clegg as the leader, Vince Cable for Chancellor, Norman Baker himself on transport with many excellent ideas for getting Britain moving better, Chris Huhne's great common sense in the Home Secretary role, Ed Davey as Foreign Secretary, Simon Hughes on energy and climate change, where do I stop? Nick Clegg doesn't mind which of them gets photographed with him, unlike Gordon Brown who is photographed with his whole cabinet in the hope that he will sink into oblivion among them, and David Cameron who is photographed with none of his in case they remind people what they're really like.

And I can talk about a great record. Our consistency over the last few years is one of our strongest selling points. Consistent opposition to the Iraq War - fully justified by subsequent events ( and one that goes hand in hand with a realistic and hard headed defence policy for the future). Consistent opposition to the whole waste of money on ID cards. The fact that we heralded some of the problems brewing in the recession years before either Labour or Tories had a clue. A record on MPs expenses and other abuses that cannot be touched by Labour or Tories. Norman Baker began his campaign to reveal MPs' expenses with a Freedom of Information request in 2005, and his filibuster was crucial in 2007 in preventing Tories and Labour uniting to exempt Parliament from the Freedom of Information Act (reason alone to be proud of him). We proposed rules on lobbying in 2006 which were thrown out by the combined forces of the gravy train, Tory and Labour again.

So I can talk about a history of genuine honesty, fairness, consistency and principle. Yes, it's good to be a Liberal Democrat today.

No comments: