Regular readers will know how I’ve been tracking the varying fortunes of education as a Liberal Democrat priority under party leader Tim Farron.
From a low key role in the My values – My liberalism document issued during the 2015 leadership contest, via omission from the party’s ‘new slogan’ and priorities, back to more attention to education in Farron’s last Lib Dem conference speech and now moving up to the top of the list of Farron’s priorities, it has been a bit of a roller coaster ride for education.
With the latest edition of the party’s Ad Lib magazine I think it’s fair to say we can declare the roller coaster mothballed, at least for now, given the unequivocal comment from Tim Farron: “education is my top priority” (echoing Nick Clegg).
What is more – hooray – this comment comes in a piece that powerfully blends his own personal story with the choice of political priorities. That matters because it is such moving personal stories which often cut through to voters in the way bullet point lists of policy details, especially those featuring numbers with decimal places, do not.
Or, as the reforming Liberal minister Lord Haldane put it, “The abstract programme of a party is not what is important. What matters is the volume and quality of the spirit which has inspired the programme.”