Saturday, November 13, 2010

You can't lie about your opponents, but you can lie about your policies

Realistically, the Liberal Democrats only ever had the chance of getting into power as part of a coalition government, so it is very interesting to note that they laid plans to ditch the key vote-winning policy of scrapping tuition fees well before the election. Yet again, Clegg has been caught out - far from being persuaded to drop the policy because Osborne told him the truth about the economy, Clegg was always prepared to surrender it.

Within weeks of agreeing to drop it, Clegg recorded a grossly hypocritical video specifically for the NUS spring conference, criticising the £24,000 of dead weight debt around students' necks and promising abolition within six years - a promise that he never intended to fight to honour.

You have to ask - why did Clegg and Co make such a fuss over a policy that they were never going to even try to defend in coalition negotiations? Apparently, there were only four keystone policies that they wanted to defend - vaguely referred to on the cover of the manifesto - and everything else was just window dressing. In future, can we ask that the Liberal Democrats (presuming that they actually HAVE a future after the next election, other than as a footnote to history) make clear which policies they really mean to implement and which are just garnish?

There may be justification for changing a policy some time after an election - even a manifesto policy - if circumstances demand it. It is much harder to retain credibility when you cynically publicise a policy that you have absolutely no intention of delivering. That is obtaining votes by deception and hardly tallies with the Liberal Democrat aim of cleaning up politics - or perhaps that was just the window dressing.

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