Sunday, October 15, 2006

Perceptions from the Front line...Pro Lib Dem but Anti Ming Campbell students...

I spent much of yesterday amongst starry eyed freshers at the University of York's annual freshers fair, trying to convince all comers to ignore the lure of many of the other more extravagant student socities and throw their lot in with the Lib Dems. As ever our stall was very well supported and generated a lot of interest, even if the odd client was more interested in getting their hands on one of the iconic 'homophobia is gay' badges, than actually joining the party. Although we appeared to attract as many supporters as in previous years, there was one recurrent theme amongst a significant proportion of the students that i spoke to; that of hostility towards Ming Campbell.


Comments ranged from the predictable 'politics is all about image now', to "David Cameron just seems a more approachable man", comments that would be music to the ears of the Tory PR machine. In a majority on instances, once one of us on the stall engaged the students on the relative merits of Liberal Democrat policy and steered the conversation away from Ming Campbell, the reception we received was far more positive. I do however believe that this hesitancy towards Ming Campbell amongst students is something that the party needs to actively look to combat. Ming's pledge upon becoming leader about surrounding himself with a young team needs to be fulfilled; as although we certainly have many young stars in key frontbench positions, the public profiles of the likes of Clegg, Goldsworthy etc is still very limited. Equally, i am not claiming that we should patronise our student voters by arguing that they only respond to youthful faces; alongside promoting our young stars, it is imperative that we continue to paint Cameron's Conservatives as being opportunist and wholly bereft of substance. The key being to engage young people not on the relative merits of Cameron vs Campbell (a battle i fear we would lose) to a battle between the party's relative positions on the major issues of the day. With a special focus on the the environment, foreign policy (particularly Iraq) and public services. Let battle commence!


Oh and if you happen to be reading this post on my York facebook account- then please come to our Lib Dem welcome event- &:30pm on Monday 16th oct- see
www.yusu.org/libdems

Andrew

Monday, October 02, 2006

Priceless humour as ever-Conservative party members make both themselves and Mr Cameron look a little silly...

The revolution didnt last too long; just months after we were all urged to 'vote blue and go green' the Conservative party membership today delivered a stunning rebuke to David Cameron's environmental credentials. (http://news.bbc.co.uk/1/hi/uk_politics/5400084.stm) In the days 'hot topic' debate, the Tory faithful were asked to support a motion that rightly claimed that cheap flights are flourishing in a 'false economy' and action must be taken to increase the price of flying so as to reflect its huge cost to the planet. Yet, despite their green local election campaign, their shiny new green logo and the green backdrop to the conference hall, the delegates stubbornly refused to give in to the not-so subliminal message being sent to them about the need to establish some environmentally friendly policies. After a debate that included some truly memorable quotes, they declared by a margin of 57-43% that there was nothing really wrong with cheap flights and they certainly would not be prepared to fork out anymore of their hard earned cash for their habitual weekend trips to the continent! One delegate boasted of the 100 flights that he had racked up in the past year, whilst another announced that "aircraft produce 2% of the world's carbon emissions - exactly the same as the world's cow population, I would rather give up beef than air travel". I feel i need add no more, as these comments quite obviously speak for themselves and provide the uneducated with a real glimpse inside the mind of an average conservative party member and the deep concern that runs through them all over the need to cut carbon emissions...


Although i can and will be dining out on the cow quote for many weeks to come, todays vote represents much more than the latest chance to poke fun at the Tory party membership. It proves to David Cameron just how epic a task he has in front of him to persuade his party to ever adopt a serious policy on the environment. This conference has already displayed that the Tory party membership dont have time to talk about this green nonsense, they have come to Bournemouth with a unified desire to talk about the issues that have always mattered to them most, upfront tax cuts, immigration and Euro-scepticism. The party have shown today what a callous disregard they have for the defining political issue of our time and have served to remind the public that just in case they were falling for Dave's brilliant PR message of 'change', the Tory party at heart is as unrepentant, uncaring and nasty as it ever was before.