What’s the Lib Dem priority?

The House magazine feature on the Liberal Democrats

That was the question from The House magazine, and here’s the answer I gave them:

Survival. That quite simply has to be the top Liberal Democrat priority given the party’s sustained lowly opinion poll ratings. The prospects for survival, and not just survival but survival in a strong enough position to force another hung Parliament and continued power in government, are promising – but there is no room for complacency.

It’s a good sign that the declared candidates in the race to succeed Party President Tim Farron are all talking about rebuilding the party’s organisational strength, but we have heard big ambitions from Presidential candidates before that didn’t turn into results (such as then-President Simon Hughes’s plan to double the party’s membership). Party members in the Presidential contest need to put pressure on all the candidates to flesh out their plans with convincing detail and a clear idea of how to implement them.

Turning to government, far more of the party’s negotiations with the Conservatives need to play out in public rather than in private – as otherwise there is no chance of getting credit for the extreme Conservative ideas the party stops month in, month out.

The party also needs to stay focused on the issues that are most important to the public. Well intentioned though Nick Clegg’s emphasis on education or Tim Farron’s on housing is, neither are the issues the public puts top of its priority list. If the party doesn’t talk about the public’s priorities, others will – and will win their votes as a result.

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