Sunday, 19 April 2009

So, what's wrong with the Liberal Democrats? #wldconf

Big ideas and sweeping statements were the order of the day at the Welsh Lib Dem conference this weekend but there's not many among us who think the little party will make a big dent at the upcoming Euro elections and they may even lose ground at the next general election. So why aren't we voting Lib Dem?

My two colleagues were so impressed with the Plaid operation two weeks ago that the Lib Dem conference had a lot to live up to. The one thing to point out about the whole occasion was that it wasn't by any stretch of the imagination a shameless plug for the party but seemed like a genuine opportunity for members to come together and talk about policy (and have a pretty good time in the evenings by all accounts).

So it wasn't slick. It wasn't modern. It wasn't particularly fresh. What we got was much of what we had expected. Many of the same ideas the Lib Dems have been banging around for years on Europe, taxation and more 'democratic accountability'. Much of it was met with a shrug from the media, a sort of 'so what'? Where's the news angle?

The predicament the Lib Dems find themselves in then it seems is that democracy is pretty boring!

It's ironic that a party that comes together at conference to actually talk about issues and to vote on the party's policy gets met with indifference while the Plaid conference that was a great show and a 'demonstration of unity' - but achieved very little policy-wise - gets lauded as a great success.

The big problem for the Lib Dems is this: the party's about to face some tough challenges, a Euro election where despite talking tough they stand very little chance of actually gaining a seat in Wales; then after that a resurgent Tory party will challenge them in 2 out of 4 of their Westminster seats while a well-funded Plaid Cymru are campaigning harder than ever and could well hurt the Lib Dems by squeezing them as the 'other party of the left' picking up disaffected Labour voters in the south.

So is it just that we don't need the Lib Dems in Wales? The country's quite left as it is, even the Welsh Tories are closer to the left than the central party. What is it that the Lib Dems offer that the other parties don't?

I should point out that there are things. But the Lib Dems probably need to make more of them. Maybe they do need to put on more of a show at conference, scrap much of that democracy lark - much like the Labour party did a few years ago.

Would that be a price worth paying for the Lib Dems? Would it actually make a difference do you think? Or are they just a bit of a hopeless cause?

Dewi Tri



Anonymous said...

Interesting post and one that's really made me reflect on what conferences used to be about.They certainly were not media shows.They were about discussion,debate, good times , networking and getting the activists fired up.
glad to see that possibly the lib dems may be getting their act together

Wil_cc said...

It should be remembered that Plaid's main annual conference is in September and that is where policy motions are discussed.

The other parties only have one get together in Wales and therefore have to have all their policy discussion in the spring. Although in the case of the Tories and Labour this doesn't amount to much.

StraightThinker said...

The Plaid Conference was a "demonstration of unity"???? Hahaha that's a joke! You know they kicked a 17 year old female student out of the party altogether for DARING to disagree with Ieuan Wyn Jones.

What do the Lib Dems offer Wales? They offer Wales a choice of real democracy. I don't understand how people still see Plaid as an option. After turning their backs on their own members (let alone the people of Wales!) they should rightly be a national joke.

Peter Black said...

The Welsh Liberal Democrats have two conferences a year. Both discuss and vote on policy.