'Oh, so that's who Richard Morris is..." Lord Hattersley on The Daily Politics

'An influential activist' - The Guardian

'Iain Dale, without the self loathing' - Matthew Fox in The New Statesman

You are a tinker...' - Tim Farron

Thursday, 1 September 2011

Have I mentioned our new neighbours? They're called Brad and Angelina.

Yes, it's true, Brangelina have moved in  down the road and it's been the talk of the common all summer.

I am yet to spot them in Malcom's hardware shop on the parade or in the Hand and Flower, nor do they appear to be regulars in the Saqui Tandori. Indeed if it wasn't for the occasional helicopter landing, you wouldn't know they were there.

But it's certainly given the place a bit of a buzz (no pun intended).

So what has this to do with all things Lib Dem?

Well, it's prompted me to think about one of the more common phrases kicked about during the course of the recession.

"We're all in this together'. 

Now, I don't begrudge Brad and Angelina any of their wealth - they've worked hard for it and they are very good at what they do.

But as helicopters swoop in, it's fairly obvious to everyone that we may all be in it together, but some people are in it rather less than others.

From a selfish point of view, I'm relieved that ownership of that phrase is one piece of poor political posturing that's been placed firmly at the door of the Tories.

And as Lib Dems, the things we're probably proudest of and have more ownership of politically - taking hundreds of thousands of people out of income tax altogether, free nursery care for children from the poorest homes, 250000 more places for apprenticeships et al - demonstrate that we understand that recessions affect the poor rather more than the well off. They are also truly liberal policies.

However, we have confused this message. While we refer to these policies as our proudest achievement, we speak of our need to look after both  the poorest and what we once might have called 'the middle classes' , using that rather unloved phrase 'alarm clock Britain' to encompass everyone. 

While I suspect this is partly driven by electoral arithmetic, it shows a lack of focus in our messaging. And one that needs resolving going forward. 

Am I saying we need to choose between the poorest and the rest? Of course not. 

But we need to be sure that both our policies and our messaging deliver for different constituencies with different issues. And not fall into the trap of introducing policies that help one group, but addressing our message entirely to another. 

For then, we'll satisfy no one.

Now, I wonder if Brad's propping up the bar in The New Inn?....

No comments:

Post a Comment