You could almost hear the whoops of delight from Lib Dem HQ when David Cameron announced he had a little black book of Tory policies blocked by the Lib Dems that will form the heart of the next Tory manifesto. You can’t buy that kind of publicity. And indeed, ever helpful, the Lib Dems have now published the 2015 Tory party manifesto. It’s both an entertaining and slightly troubling read.
It has however, left me wondering where Nick’s little Black Book is?
Now of course, in true Lib Dem style there’s a gargantuan round-Britian-road-trip-and-open-submission-process-and-a-committee-to-boot effort currently going into writing the 2015 Lib Dem manifesto.
But thinking back over the last few years, Lord’s Reform and the Mansion Tax aside, it’s hard to think what Lib Dem policies we’ve had blazing rows about in government that haven’t seen the light of day. Not even the AV referendum – we had it, we just screwed it up.
That’s not to say there haven’t been such rows; just that we don’t talk about them much. And sure, I can list a ton of brilliant Lib Dem policies – Pensions reform, tax thresholds, Pupil Premium, free school meals – that we’ve achieved in government. But you can’t help but feel we were pushing on an open Tory door here, given they were all cracking ideas. And indeed, the Tories now seem set on trying to nick half of them as their own.
I keep hearing that we’re going to spend the next 18 months attacking the Tories and Labour as idealogues, more interested in promoting what they believe than what it actually needed to continue to dig us out of the economic mire.
Can this possibly be true? We’re going to attack other parties because they ‘believes very strongly in particular principles and tries to follow them carefully’ (to use the dictionary definition)?
I wonder if we’ve properly thought that through?
Being the voice of reason, maintaining equidistance between the two parties we may end up in coalition negotiations with come 2015, and maintaining a centrist position is all very well.
But the reason we managed 23 per cent share in the last general election was because people believed we were both ideologues and principled – and not cut from the Tony Blair 'government-by-management' cloth.
Folk will either adore David Cameron’s ideas in his little Black Book, or be horrified by them. But everyone will be certain that he believes them.
I can’t help but think we need a touch of that ourselves.
So Nick. What have Dave and George stopped us doing? I’m all ears.
Richard Morris blogs at A View From Ham Common, which was named Best New Blog at the 2011 Lib Dem Conference