A couple of bad results in the past two days, one in the world of politics, one in the world of sport. Firstly England cricket team's dismal defeat by Ireland on Wednesday - at one point in the game I saw odds of 100-1 (apparently they were up to 200-1 at some point) on an Irish victory, I was tempted to put a fiver on it but thought even England couldn't throw that away. Secondly there was the by-election result in Barnsley where the Lib Dems ended up in a disappointing sixth place.
The message on both of these fronts is the same, stay calm and keep doing what we're doing.
The mitigating factor in the cricket was the outstanding innings by Kevin O'Brien. He came to the crease with the score on 106-4 and saw it fall to 111-5, up until that point it had been a very professional performance by England. He had the freedom of knowing that there was no pressure on him, Ireland were expected to lose and they were in a losing position, which meant he could just play his shots. It really was a remarkable innings. England will learn from this, although their confidence will have taken a bit of a kicking they will be able to analyse the mistakes that they made (not good enough "death" bowling, i.e. yorkers and surprise balls) and improve them going forward. They don't suddenly become a bad team over night, many of them were in the side that won the Ashes not yet 2 months ago. That said they are almost certainly not good enough to win the world cup and there needs to be some changes in personnel to get the right balance and level of freshness (some appear weary) but on the whole they were beaten by a wonderful innings.
With regards the Liberal Democrats, our policies haven't suddenly become bad policies overnight. As the excellent Caron points out in her musings we don't have a strong base there and weren't expecting to do well. It is right in the middle of a strong Labour area so as the cuts start to become apparent there was always going to be a backlash. If Labour were in power now there would have been a backlash against them too. In addition we hardly seemed to be campaigning, I know for Oldham I was getting messages asking me to help ever day, I can't think of one I received for here.
This doesn't mean that we are doing the wrong thing. I still feel that our only chances now for the next general election are to keep going, we have to prove that being in Government we can make people's lives better. At the moment the steps we are having to take to sort out the Nations' finances are starting to bite, but they are necessary, our good initiatives are yet to really take effect. What we really need as a party is to be able to make people think at the end of 5 years "yes the Liberal Democrats did make a difference". We wont achieve this with any knee jerk reactions on a disappointing but predictable by election result.