The question was recently posed – Are we for the masses against the classes?
I’d say neither has the answer to be honest. The masses needs – to have better public services but pay less tax, are irreconcilable. The “classes” want to pay less tax but privatise the public services so they don’t have to pay for poor people leaving the poor to fall where they are. Which is unacceptable. Of course, opinion divides on who are the masses and who are the classes, but that’s another debate for another day.
Which is why I believe channelling the needs of the masses against the vested interests of the classes is what we should be doing. And part of that is empowering local people – IMO the good work of the Localism bill seems to have escaped everyone but Richard Kemp, and Andrew Stunnell.
In fact Richard Kemp, I would say is one of a few that has sought to explain legislation enacted to the party and done it OK.
Nick Clegg has a nuclear button – he can walk out of the coalition. But he can only play it once. I’m sure his instinct is to stay. And the most vocal of the membership seem to want him to leave. Should we have done it over the forests? But then we couldn’t have done it now? Should we have done it over ESA? But then we couldn’t do it now? Should we hold on to influence tax – surely the most important part of government policy since it pays for everything – or walk now over this mess of an NHS bill?
That I can’t answer and I’m not saying the leadership are doing a great job BUT I’m not really sure any of us could do a better one, and that’s why it is coalition that’s the most important factor right now – all of this hinges on the power balance between Clegg & Alexander and Cameron & Osborne. Our principles and our values are what matters to us and of course that feels important (the issues mentioned above mean a lot to me), but the real politics is the coalition. As much as anything, we are impotent – and removing our egos from that might be both the way of seeing a way forward, being able to campaign and of feeling a bit less awful about it. And stopping dreaming about a time when we walk out of coalition, Labour fall in love with us and those supporters come back. It’s not going to happen & they won’t.
Conference expressed it’s opinion. Good. Let’s see what Nick does with it – he is our leader – and until a contender emerges that is who we follow.