So please get rid of your 2010 baggage and let the centre get behind you
I think the Libdems are on the cusp of something quite dramatic, with the collapse of Labour and the appalling behaviour of the Conservatives there are huge numbers of voters looking for a different party and thinking that this might be the LibDems.
However, if they are like me then they are finding it difficult to align completely with your party because of the events 2010-2015.
2010 was the first and only time I voted LibDem and it turned out to be one of the most regrettable decisions I have made. My leanings have always been towards a caring society with a sensible welfare state and in 2010 I felt it was time to vote LibDem as your values were now closer to mine than my heritage of supporting Labour.
I was supremely confident that in the event of a close election the LibDems would either form a coalition with Labour or force another election. The concept of the LibDems joining the Conservatives given the huge difference in their value sets was not something I thought possible.
I have since heard the rationalisations but I haven’t changed my view that it was the lure of power that took your party into the coalition and huge numbers of people felt hurt and let down by that behaviour.
And then there was the University fees debacle. I’m sure you are fed up with hearing about it but there is no getting around the fact that again a large part of the electorate felt let-down by the broken promise.
It is pretty obvious that, of the current main stream parties, the LibDems would be our best chance of sorting out the #Brexit mess, hopefully with a ratification referendum once the country knows the terms and costs of exit.
However I don’t think people will move to the LibDems sufficiently unless you can shake off the baggage of the coalition and school fees. At the moment voters have a Hobson’s choice of supporting the Conservatives with no real values or principles other than the need to stay in power or the Libdems who have a great set of values but a proven record of abandoning their principles given the opportunity to wield the power of high office.
My reason for writing to you is that I have a proposal that I think would address these issues.
- Coalitions – In light of the recent behaviour of the Conservatives, merrily abandoning their fiscal targets at the first opportunity, I think it is time to stop trying to justify what happened in 2010 and rather to accept it was a mistake. Given the uncertainty of our electoral system it wouldn’t seem prudent to rule out any further coalitions but you could commit the party to only going into a coalition with a party with similar values to your own. This would remove the worry that voters like myself have that their vote would be “stolen”.
- University fees – What is done is done however I think an elegant way to repair the damage would be to commit to a “Student Loan tax relief” system. This could work along the lines of offsetting the Student Loan repayments with tax relief at the same rate or similar to a student’s loan repayments. Obviously this only applies to those in the process of repaying their loan and there could be all sorts of ways to finesse this (e.g. only in force for the 1st 10 years of repaying) which would limit the cost but give relief to hard wording, tax paying young adults when they need it most. I don’t even think this would cost very much but it would be a vote winner. These young adults will also be your target voters of the future so lock them in!
I hope you don’t think me presumptuous putting forward these ideas, they are meant kindly.
I have not been particularly political until last June stirred me into action. The Referendum and subsequent events have shown me that we cannot just sit back and expect of politicians to “do it for us” so I am now getting far more involved and have a growing following on my site Britainstays.co.uk and twitter on @britainstays . I am horrified by the lurch towards fascism in the UK and the USA and feel we in the centre must organise to stop them bullying us out of our own country. I am starting to understand how things happened as they did in 1930s Germany.
Wishing you all the best,