As much as I hate the confrontational nature of the different parties - always fighting and rarely working together, opposing for oppositions sake to seem populist/trying to paint everything that the opposition does in a bad light, I find this even uglier when it comes from within a party.
Now I'm not saying that Lord Oakeshott shouldn't have commissioned a poll at all, but doing so in constituencies without the knowledge of their MPs, then sitting on the results and releasing them at the time that could be deemed most damaging to the leader just screams at putting his own interests ahead of his parties.
Apparently that poll cost in the region of £20,000. I'm also definitely not saying what Lord Oakeshott should be spending his money on (I'm sure he's been very generous where the party is concerned), but I bet there are a few former counsellors/MEPs that could have put that money to use benefiting the party. Personally I'm gutted to see Graham Watson no longer an MEP.
I am of the opinion that only positive campaigning can win back support towards our party, positive messages being put out about what we have manage to achieve, even as the junior partner in the coalition and what we want to achieve from 2015:
- Income tax threshold increased to £10,000 (basically changing the way people think about income tax for the low paid).
- Restoring the Earnings link with Pensions.
- Introducing the Pupil Premium (£1,300 per eligible pupil in primary schools and £935 per eligible pupil in secondary schools in 2014-15)
- Ended Child Detention.
- Equal Marriage.
We should be screaming these and everything else from the roof tops!
Yes people find us untrustworthy after the tuition fees debacle but we should be pointing out our positive influence still - that even part time students don't now have to pay fees up front, that effectively they'll be paying off their maintenance loans first - which are larger than they would be if there were no fees, meaning students themselves are better off unless they become successful in which case they are making a larger contribution than previously to their education that made them successful. (I am not saying that this is the exact policy I would have, but it's better than when my parents had to pay over £1,000 up front each year in order for me to attend University!)
We should be shouting out what a future parliament including the Liberal Democrats would mean for people in this country, not shouting at each other. If we don't have a message of what we believe in and what we hope to achieve from 2015 why would people vote for us? Ed Miliband may be putting forward a lot of barely thought through populist nonsense, but at least he is trying to carve an identity for his party.
The Liberal Democrats are a democratic party, we win together, we lose together, this in fighting is doing nobody any favours and making us look as bad, if not worse than the rest when what we've always campaigned on is being different.