There hasn't been a lot for the Liberal Democrats to cheer about in the past couple of weeks and the blogosphere is awash with analysis of where we're at and how we remedy the situation. An excellent post in this regard can be found at Caron's Musings in which she reacts to Nick Clegg's speech this morning.
One of the key factors which has been identified for rebuilding the electoral base is the communication of the positive impact of the party on the coalition - not just on our pet issues but also on those issue which resonate most with the public. I think Caron's picked a particularly unsung Lib Dem Gain in the example she uses here:
"By suggesting that the Liberal Democrats be more assertive about their differences he makes it sound like we need to argue our case more in the Government. It's more that we have to do it in public. I know that our ministers have robustly fought and won arguments within the Government. Remember that mad idea of Osborne's of cutting Housing Benefit for people out of work for a year? That's gone. And who got rid of it? I'll give you a clue. It wasn't any Tory. It was our ministers calmly and feistily acting on behalf of the poorest and most vulnerable."
Over on Stephen's Liberal Journal, in his post reacting to Clegg's speech, he lists some of the issues and areas where the Lib Dem influence on Government policy has been stronger and gives the lie to Conservative claims that this is not the case (reported here):
"David Cameron is denying claims that Lib Dems have "moderated" the Conservative agenda. So Dave, as the Browne report suggested uncapped tuition fees, would the debacle of yesterday where [it was suggested] students paid full fees have become a reality for all without Lib Dem intervention? Would this have been brought in without any requirement on the Universities to help the poorer students into Higher Education? Would the income tax threshold have risen so far ahead of inflation, to ease the burden of your VAT increase on the poorest families? Would you have returned pensions in line with earnings, something your party has said for a long time they were against?"
There's a mountain to climb, and many other electoral tests to come, but there is also a lot of positive things to shout about even if things may have been somewhat negative of late. As well as learning the various lessons of last Thursday, we cannot and should not forget them. And we should communicate them as widely as possible.
P.S. Stephen's post also features a bit of classic New Romantics in direct contravention of what Nick says about not going back to the Eighties! :-p