Monday, 2 July 2012

Is Cameron Campaigning for 2015?

First up last week we had the despicable announcement that under 25s will be stripped of the right to claim housing benefit. So much for means testing and compassionate conservatism.

Then today we have him saying that there will be a referendum on Europe. But it it doesn't appear to be the clear in/out option he was rattling on about before the last election but some procedural stuff when the time is right.

Notice that in neither of these cases was Cameron saying this was the coalition Government policy, these are either his ideas of Conservative party idea that they want to air. So is he starting to campaign for 2015?

You see the Conservatives don't have a party wide forum to discuss policy. It comes either from their think tanks or the leaders inner circle. Unlike the Lib Dems where twice a year we debate policy and the leadership don't always get their way at such things, but policy is debated and  voted on. Every member of the Lib Dems knows the fundamentals of the party and what it stands for and ofter the most impassioned debates have come from when there is fundamental disagreement over which of two ideas is the way to take those principles forward with both sides claiming first principles.

The Tories on the other hand air their thoughts in the public forum to all the world and wait to see the reaction. If the reaction isn't good they may gave, or they may carry on anyway. It is always hard to tell with them. But while Lib Dems go about the twice annual ritual of writing, then supporting (currently I'm getting the emails asking for my voting rep support), then debating and voting on the path forward the Conservatives don't have such concrete laid down policies year on year. Things can be changed on a whim and a policy announcement like their one on equal marriage only come out the week before the 2010 General Election. The Lib Dem one was in the offing well before then making its way through the hoops having been passed in Scotland and getting the support to put it before conference in that September.

So if David Cameron is starting to campaign on the fundamental differences shouldn't the Lib Dems be doing the same. Saying on one hand this is what we are doing at the moment for the country, but when the time is right and the Lib Dems are the majority in Westminster we want to do X,Y and Z on the other. We would stop taking flak for the mutual decisions when we can say without damaging collective responsibility "...but if we had things our own way we would do this".

Of course Cameron is reaching for his core vote because of the collective decision he has made with Lib Dems have made him look too caring, to much part of the liberal elite. I have expect him to mute the idea that civil partnerships should be downgraded like has happened in Queensland recently just to appease the Church of England Conservatives.

So why can't the Lib Dems start doing the same reaching out to those who say we have sold out, when compromise was needed to get things done. Saying we still stand for those things you voted for us for in 2010. We do want to do them when you give us the chance, don't desert up, come back. We have a core of libereal minded voters some of whom quite rightly don't like all that this Government has done.

But we as Lib Dems should be allowed just as Cameron is doing now be allowed to say when the time is right and this country is out of recession we will be working to do X, Y and Z. Laying out our plans to take this country on a different agenda to that of the Conservative Party. 

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