It seems tradition for millions in this country every year to make all kinds of commitments in a way to better ourselves. I myself would like to cut down on my smoking, lose a bit of weight and try and be a bit more positive in my outlook on life. I do not, however, think the stipulation of it being confined to a new years pact is necessarily the best way to achieve these. I believe that if we truly want to achieve our goals then we would do our best to do so regardless of it being a new year. But I guess, to keep in tradition, it is not a bad place to start. 2012 will be a very different year to 2011, so why not make it the case for our own lives as well.
But just as a bit of fun I have compiled some resolutions that maybe the Liberal Democrats may want to look at:
1) Don’t let Labour get to us
An increasing trend since the General Election amongst Labour supporters has been generally to bash the party at every given opportunity. If there is an unpopular Tory policy its our fault for “propping up the Tories” or if we go against a pre-election pledge its because the Lib Dems have “sold out”. Labour like to pretend that is being pursued now is because trust was lost in them and that they lost their mandate to govern. For us to combat such an onslaught we need to stio Labour getting the better of us and take the fight to them. For every time they tell us we’re propping up an unpopular government we need to remind them of the mess they got this country in and more importantly remind the electorate that things would not have been too cheery under Labour either. It is not just about reminding people of what Labour did and would have done, but also selling ourselves better (see below).
2) Learn to sell ourselves better
We have been saying this for a while now but if we can not achieve this in 2012 then when can we? We are finally in a cemented position in Government where I believe the party can be confident of what is and what can achieve for Britain. We need to communicate our message better. It is no good having Tory ministers stand up at their conference selling the policies we put together in our manifesto when it should be Liberal Democrats standing proudly by our commitments to raising the income tax threshold, ensuring money is put into the regional growth fund, securing a pupil premium of £2.5 billion and giving pensioners the biggest basic increase that any other Government has ever managed. It is no good the public knowing about these changes when they are not even aware that it is Liberal Democrats working in government to secure them.
3) Try not to be swayed by a mobilised left wing
You only need to go on the Guardian website to see the attitude towards this Government is even more hostile than ever before. Especially amongst some columnists. We were no doubt grateful for the support from the Guardian at 2010 election, but that does not mean we must be swayed off course whenever we receive criticisms from them. We are committed to a job of fixing the economy, getting the deficit down and all whilst ensuring we push towards a more liberal society. The more ferevently left wing individuals out there may be taking to the streets, and often for reasons I can sympathise, but we must never forget the pledge far greater than any we made before; that working together in the national interest through tough times which we inevitably have faced.
4) Stay united
It is not hard to see the splits in the Labour party. They are torn between the now old New Labour and the new Old Labour (or whatever they’re trying to pursue at the moment). The Blairites of old still have a large influence in the party, especially with the ever present Peter Mandelson who is not afraid to make his opinions clear on party direction and leadership and there is no doubt this will continue to have damaging effects. Even in the Tory party the backbenchers are mobilising to very great effect on issues such as the European Union which shows that the Tories are still a divided party on the EU. We must not allow ourselves to fall into this trap. Of course we have already seen backbenchers vote against the Government, but that is acceptable within the nature of our position. It is not because we are a party that is split, it is because we are in a unique position that has, if anything, empowered not just Lib Dem ministers but also our backbenchers to vote freely without feeling like they are betraying the party. I think that should be a constant reminder of the fortunate position we’re in and that to utilise it best we must stay united.
5) Back Nick Clegg
Like I have said above, unity is key. It is key to a strong party of Government and to uphold our commitments. I personally believe the best way we can achieve unity is firstly by giving full backing to Nick Clegg. He has had a rough time in Coalition, whether it be from the tuition fees fiasco, his closeness to Cameron or the failure of the Yes2AV campaign being unfairly dumped at his doorstep. But what he has succeeded with he has succeeded fantastically. Lets not forget he has led us into Government and given us a platform to finally implement many of the policies we have spent years fighting to see in Government. Unless Nick Clegg royally buggers up over the next year I see no reason as to why he should not be here with us next year as Deputy Prime Minister, leading a party that stands right beside him proudly.
So that is just 5 things I think that the party should consider in the new year, but I’m sure there is a lot more to it than just what I’ve outlined. We have big challenges to face, seats to defend and campaigns to fight. 2012 will prove to be very interesting whatever the outcomes.