The real reason the Lib Dems are languishing in the polls

Is there a pantomime in the land that didn't feature a "Nick Clegg breaking a promise" joke this Chr

There is a great (though sadly, totally erroneous) quote attributed to Catherine the Great, which says:

You can be a murderous tyrant and the world will remember you fondly, but f*ck one horse and you will be a horse f*cker for all eternity.

It strikes me that there's a lesson in there for us Lib Dems.

There's an increasing tendency within the party to accept that our languishing in the polls is a natural price for being in government, especially during the worst economic maelstrom for 80 years. In such circumstances you do all sorts of unpopular things you'd rather not do -- and no-one likes the person administering the nasty medicine.

To adopt such an attitude ignores the fact that the other party in government is riding high in the polls regardless of the treatment they're doling out, while the Prime Minster remains the only national party leader with positive approval ratings.

So how come David Cameron gets to play the role of beloved tyrant, while Nick Clegg...?

It is because the nasty medicine is not at the forefront of people's minds when they think of the Liberal Democrats. It is lack of trust. Betrayal. An inability to keep a promise. It is still tuition fees.

Most people in the party are pretty bored talking about this now -- which is fine. But the country isn't. Is there a pantomime in the land that didn't feature a "Nick Clegg breaking a promise" joke this Christmas? I suspect not.

We can write a long list of positive, liberal achievements in government -- the pupil premium, lifting nearly a million low paid workers out of income tax, restoring the pensions to earnings link. Next year there'll be a load more -- like the Green Investment Bank.

But no-one will really be listening or giving us any credit. Because we still haven't put the original sin to rights yet. We could stand on a street corner throwing out £50 notes to strangers, and everyone would look at us quizzically before holding them up to the light to see if they're fake.

Of course, we must still carry on delivering on our manifesto and championing liberal causes in government. But we shouldn't expect the polls to change one iota when we do -- just as they didn't change last year. Because we'll get no credit for anything unless we resolve the tuition fees debacle.

Nick needs to say sorry. And sort it. Because until then, everyone has us marked down as horse f*ckers.

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference

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Jeremy Corbyn appoints Shami Chakrabarti to lead inquiry into Labour and antisemitism

“Labour is an anti-racist party to its core," says leader.

Jeremy Corbyn has announced plans for an independent inquiry into antisemitism in the Labour party.

The review – led by Shami Chakrabarti, the former director of the human rights campaign group Liberty – will consult with the Jewish community and other minority groups, and report back within two months.

Its vice chair will be the director of the Pears Institute for the Study of Anti-semitism, Professor David Feldman.

The move follows a week in which the party suspended Bradford MP Naz Shah and former London mayor Ken Livingstone, amid claims that both had made antisemitic remarks.

But Corbyn told the Guardian: “Labour is an anti-racist party to its core and has a long and proud history of standing against racism, including antisemitism. I have campaigned against racism all my life and the Jewish community has been at the heart of the Labour party and progressive politics in Britain for more than 100 years.”

He added that he would not see the results of next Thursday's local elections as a reflection of his leadership, and insisted that he would not be held to arbitrary measures of success.

“I’m keeping going, I was elected with a very large mandate and I have a huge responsibility to the people who elected me to this position," he said.

Jonn Elledge is the editor of the New Statesman's sister site CityMetric. He is on Twitter, far too much, as @JonnElledge.