Two things we learnt about the Liberal Democrats today

First, what’s likely to be on the front page of the next Liberal Democrat general election manifesto:

Balance the budget
Balance the budget by 2018, protecting the economic recovery and bringing down Britain’s debt.

Cut income tax
Cut income tax by £400 for low and middle earners, paid for by taxes on the richest.

Protect mental health
Guarantee equal care and waiting times for mental health as for physical health, by increasing spending on the NHS.

Improve education
Ensure every child is taught by a qualified teacher and protect spending on nurseries, schools and colleges.

To those who track Lib Dem policy debates the content is not surprising, though the omission of the environment, civil liberties and political reform is notable (although the environment and civil liberties feature in the list of secondary policies).

Second, we’ve learnt how respected Liberal Democrat Director of Strategy Ryan Coetzee is with many party activists.

That’s because there are two ways of reacting to the photo. One is ‘what a stupid thing to do; has he not seen all the previous stories about photographers catching out politicians?’ The other is ‘what a brilliantly cunning thing to do, straight out of the Malcolm Tucker playbook; it’s got the party a free round of media coverage for our policies’.

The evidence to point firmly to one conclusion or the other is negligible and as far from being conclusive as I am from being a skilled dancer. So which of those you pick reveals far more about your attitude towards Ryan Coetzee than about the objective facts of the matter.

And what reactions have there been? Rather a lot of Lib Dems on social media going for the brilliant option, not the ‘send the man a batch of envelopes’ option.

As David Penhaligon nearly said, if you’ve got something to say, stick it on a piece of paper and wave it near a camera.

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