Tuesday, September 22, 2009

"Nobody told us"

You would think that perhaps the Lib Dem front bench would be most riled about abandoning plans to scrap tuition fees or perhaps imposing the costs of means testing on the child benefit system.

But no, they were more concerned about the 'mansions' tax,' which was described as 'complete codswallop' by an unnamed MP. It appears that Julia Goldsworthy, the spokeswoman for communities and local government - who would be expected to be at the centre of any such policy discussion - only found about the policy when it was announced on the Today programme. So much for the praise that she and other leading Lib Dem women got from the platform yesterday by Cleggy. She wasn't alone - other spokespeople have been annoyed at having new policies dumped entirely unannounced on their doorsteps. Apparently, Vince has had this tax idea up his sleeve for years, but has never had backing for it, until the moment that Clegg couldn't think of anything to grab the headlines and told him to go for it.

Steve Webb, the work and pensions spokesman (I couldn't pick him out of a line-up, but never mind, you don't become a Lib Dem for fame) criticised Cleggy's gloom
If Martin Luther King had been a Liberal Democrat he'd have made a speech called I Have a Nightmare; if Barack Obama had been a Lib Dem he'd have written
a book called the Audacity of Gloom

adding that the party did not need a strategy that
alienated every group in society by floating a raft of policies, many of which would not end up as party policy

The Federal Policy Committee, which will write the next fantasy manifesto has a majority of members already committed to opposing some of Clegg's proposals, so his biggest challenge over the coming weeks and months isn't to convince the public to vote Liberal, but to convince his party colleagues to back him.

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