Sunday, 4 May 2008

Time is running out on the LIb Dem narrative

Although it is good to see once again the Lib Dems building on the number of councillors they have after the recent local elections, it is painful to see the Tories being the main beneficeries of Labour's nadir. Particulary on the issue of the 10% tax issue that affects the poor.
Labour is losing the image of the party of equality, but the Lib Dems do not have that association fixed in the voters mind either.
This was not so much the case when the party advocated a 50% tax rate on high income earners. We were reassured when this policy was dropped that the new Green taxes would in fact tax the rich even more. However we knew this would be a hard sell for the next general election.
The problem is that currently the electorate do not associate the Liberal Democrats with very much in the first place. The issue of Iraq has not really gone away, but in the minds of the electorate it has.
I believe the Liberal Democrats can be stronger on issues such as equality. We should have clear policies that tax the rich more in order to improve public services. The new narrative that replaced the old one is not working.


Neil Stockley said...

Interesting argument. What do you believe the narrative is now? (remembering that a narrative is not a policy, a philosophy or a slogan but a story by which the party creates and reinforces a brand image)

Tristan said...

I hope we never develop a narrative based on equality, at least not in the way you mean.

We should be for equality before the law. That is necessary for freedom.

Your equality of outcome creates neither equality or freedom, only resentment and poverty.

We should champion a safety net for the poor, but not the current welfare state which is a sop to the middle classes.

Liberalism is not and has never been about equality of outcome, but equality before the law.

The problem the modern left have is they have forgotten that and seek to skew things for their own preferred special interests, just as the Tories have always done.

The modern left gave up any ideal of equality in favour of either pandering to the leaders of organised labour (but not to workers) or to the middle classes and their desire to force others to help to salve their consciences.

The Liberal Democrats do need to reclaim the left wing, but not the left wing of the Fabians and Social Democrats, but the left wing of the radicals, the free marketeers and classical liberals.

Left Lib said...

Narrative seems to be a rather modern term. I remember in the 1980s that David Marquand (then in the SDP and briefly in the Liberal Democrats) used to argue that people know what our policies are, but do not know what we stand for.
I see a strong correlation between what he was saying then, and the discussion we are having today. Our narrative in effect explains why we exist and what our purpose is.
The traditional narrative for Labour is that they exist to create a more equal society.
The Liberal Democrats are going for a more free society, for which Nick Clegg is even prepared to break the law. Nick Clegg has also taken the initiative in addressing poverty, as we saw in his leadership speach at the March conference. But as yet noone has noticed in any great numbers. We did well in the recent local elections, but the Tories were the main benficeries of the revolt against Labour. They have the advantage in being able to beat Labour. They are not the natural political home for the Labour defectors.