Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Lib Dems can't afford to miss the news boat

Yesterday I had a moan that, on Radio 4's PM programme, a Labour/Tory spat about spending and cuts was followed by something really limp and wishy-washy from the Lib Dems attacking them for pre-election positioning, as if that's so terrible months out from a General Election.

It came across as if the Lib Dems simply had nothing to say on the major issue of the day, but the sad thing is that the party has rather a lot to say on it. As Lib Dem Voice explains in more detail, the Sainted Vince has a plan. I haven't read it yet, but if past experience is anything to go by, there's a fair chance it's a pretty good one.

As the third party, your chances to set the news agenda are few and far between. The Lib Dems launching a plan will get a few words on the BBC and maybe a mention in the quality press.

The party really can't afford to let opportunities like yesterday's go. Labour and the Tories are having a big spat. If you want to be seen as a serious player, you've got to be in the ring throwing punches. Instead, the party was standing in the lobby and bitching to the few people who'd listen how unsporting it all was.

Maybe the party wasn't ready to launch the new plan.

No problem. Weigh in with "Vince Cable has come up with a plan to save £14 billion (or whatever it is) which we'll be announcing tomorrow and debating at our party conference next week".

The point is that the Lib Dems need to have something to say when the media want it said - the party isn't normally in a position to dictate the timing. It seems to me that the party was caught out this time - putting effort into making sure it doesn't happen too often in future would be a worthwhile investment.


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