Members of the Liberal Democrat Federal Policy Committee – together with Social Liberal Form Council members – have written to the Times reasserting the party’s democratic and independent manifesto process. This letter is reproduced here in full (the letter and an shorter list of signatories appeared in the Times):
At a time when political leadership and vision are in short supply, to present a manifesto devoid of either, as you report some Liberal Democrats as planning ['Lib Dems axe pledges for coalition deal', 18 Feb] would be an act of folly.
Thankfully, the democratic nature of the Liberal Democrats means that our elected Federal Policy Committee has the final say over what goes in the manifesto.
It is in the event of a balanced Parliament that compromises shall be made – not before. While commitments made in a manifesto must be affordable – like ours were in 2010 – the central message is what ultimately matters. For Liberal Democrats, who seek a fairer, more sustainable future, what we want is to fundamentally change the way British politics works – not to become a pale imitation of the two old parties.
Prateek Buch, Gareth Epps, Helen Flynn, Evan Harris, Lucy Care, Mark Pack, Tony Greaves, Kelly-Marie Blundell, Stan Collins, Louise Bloom, Geoffrey Payne; Liberal Democrat Federal Policy Committee
Naomi Smith, Mary Reid, Mathew Hulbert, Paula Keaveney, Michael Steed, Linda Jack, Gordon Lishman, Mark Blackburn; Social Liberal Forum
The letter was covered in a story on page two of the Times, headlined: Clegg’s middle-ground tactic sparks Lib Dem infighting:
Senior policymakers and grassroots members are furious about the Lib Dem leader’s plan to stake out a middle ground “equidistant” from Labour and the Tories to boost the chances of another coalition government…
“We will be scrutinising the proposals more closely this year, to watch out for what has been dropped. We won’t just be dotting the i’s and crossing the t’s,” he [Mr Buch] said. “If we don’t remain an independent party, no one will vote for us.”
He said there was growing alarm that key policies concerning drugs, land taxes, electoral and constitutional reform could all be ditched because they were opposed by both Labour and the Tories.
The full story is here (£)