There is a stunning letter in the Kent Messenger this week, but despite it's significance, it appears right at the end of the letters page. The letter explains Lib Dem policy and how it is communicated on the doorstep and in doing so exposes what I have been saying for years: the Lib Dems have no ideology or philospohy other than to get elected. This is the letter:
Cllr Chris Garland expressed surprise to discover a mismatch between what the Liberal Party's prospective parliamentary candidate says, what the Liberal councillors do and his own party's policy.
Somewhat ironically, it was youthful idealism that, in the 1960's, led me to become a Liberal Party activist, which I continued to be for almost 20 years as I moved about the country. We were guided by a single principle: get elected. Our policies were bespoke, tailored precisely to our audience, all things to all men, never diverted by troublesome facts. We always had an agreeable answer to a voters problem, although sometimes that answer might vary from doorstep to doorstep. Eventually, what remained of my idealism got the better of me, and I left the party.
Nothing has changed - Jasper Gerard is simply maintaining that tradition. The promise to abolish tuition fees at the last general election played well in university towns, not least Nick Clegg's Sheffield constituency. But the prospect of power was of greater value. What is the tactic here in Maidstone, don't the Liberals sometimes call themselves independents?