If you are, you’re in good company. Brian Eno has started a website with an open letter giving his cogent arguments as to why Lib Dems deserve your vote this time – even if you have never supported us before. He has also started a list of celebrities who are pledging their support to the Lib Dems in 2005. It’s well worth a visit.
Peter Hain writes in the Gruniad that if we vote Lib Dem, we risk getting a Tory government. This is apparantly the best way to persuade disillusioned and dissaffected Labour voters to stay loyal. Well I’ve got news for Mister Hain. It won’t wash. Believe me, I think that the idea of Michael (do you find it risi-bull?) Howard as PM is enough to frighten anyone. But it ain’t gonna happen – not in 2005 anyway. You won’t find a serious commentator anywhere who thinks that Howard can possibly win. What’s really at stake here is the size of the next Labour majority. Large majorities make for arrogant governments (and boy do we know it). The sort of government that takes it’s people into war without UN backing, against the wishes of the majority of it’s people. Where was the opposition? Whatever Peter Hain says, the only serious opposition came from the Lib Dems. Labour have let their traditional supporters down. Badly. And if they can’t show their disapproval at the ballot box when can they? They have tried the largest public demonstrations that this country has ever seen, and Tony didn’t listen. Vote Lib Dem on May the 5th (you heard it here first) – he’ll have to listen to that!
Michael Howard makes another pitch for the Dail Mail vote. This time the target is the travellers. Nice plan! Let’s face it – I don’t suppose there were too many of the travelling community who were thinking “I must register to vote so I can vote Tory”. But it does seem frankly unnecessary as most Daily Mail readers would vote Tory whoever they put in charge!
Tories love to portray Lib Dems as soft. They like to show the face of toughness. Labour, under Blunkett seemed to find it necessary to try and compete on the same turf.
But toughness isn’t as simple as it seems. For example, Michael Howard is famous for once saying “prison works”. It sounds tough and at first glance it seems to make sense. But the plain fact is that prison doesn’t work. We have one of the highest prison populations in Europe. Our re-offending rate is high because many people in prison can see no other way forward when they leave. If we do not try to help them address issues like literacy and numeracy, should we be surprised that they soon return to crime again?
It isn’t always about being tough – it’s also about being pragmatic and seeking solutions that work. Politicians talking tough on issues like immigration or drugs are not offering workable solutions – they’re just trying to win cheap votes.