The red lines the Liberal Democrats have been unveiling this week are all from the front page of the manifesto. It’s a cunning way of rebadging the front page to get another round of press coverage – and fully consistent with what was agreed for the front page.
Or as I put it in Liberal Democrat Newswire #62:
The front page priorities really are the party’s priorities.
Sounds obvious, and yet if you read the many pieces in the media about how the party has done in implementing its 2010 manifesto you find something curious. They don’t start with the front page priorities from 2010. Nor do they end with or pass through them.
In fact, the existence of 2010 front page priorities frequently doesn’t even get a mention, and I’ve not found during this campaign any media evaluation of the party’s record in government that actually goes through them all.
Rather you get a semi-random selection of different policies examined, always leaving out from consideration some of the front page (which is not without consequences for the political verdict given how good the record on the front page is).
One thing the talk of red lines does do is focus the debate back on policy, not party preferences – which is a good and welcome move. Vote Liberal Democrat to get Liberal Democrat policies is the right message:
As to how the Liberal Democrats would handle any talks in a hung Parliament, see my The Triple Lock: Lib Dem procedures in case of a hung Parliament.