Saturday, March 04, 2006


While Cameron spins, Ming plays with a straight bat

Journalists who desperately searched for a "Clause IV" moment contained within the cynical press release prepared by David Cameron (hereafter known as Mr. Balloon) on Tuesday should hie themselves to the Liberal Democrat conference this weekend and see how a real paradigm shift is engineered.

Congratulations are due to Ming - not only did he convincingly beat a surprisingly strong challenge from Chris Huhne, but he has won the post-election publicity campaign hands-down. The party's brightest and best - as promised - have been queueing up for interviews on Radio 4, BBC news and Sky News, and all have been united, on-message, and promoting the conference agenda.

And today, the conference will vote on its first policy initiative - a part-privatisation of the Royal Mail that will save thousands of local post offices. What better way to show that the Liberal Democrats are for solution-based politics - what better way to show that we are a relevant and credible alternative in the modern era? Both Labour and the Conservatives have abandoned the post office network - they have systematically stripped away many of the functions that post offices used to perform, while preventing them from effectively diversifying into viable modern businesses.

This policy will set a blueprint for how the market can be used responsibly to make people's lives better: freeing both people and businesses from a stifling regulatory burden; using competition to empower customers, employee share schemes to empower workers, and quality contracts to empower communities: a true Liberal agenda.

On Monday, Ming will announce his first reshuffle, and it looks to be an exciting one with the Home Affairs, Foreign Affairs and Environment portfolios vacant, and many young and exciting MPs such as David Laws, Nick Clegg, Ed Davey, Sarah Teather and of course Chris Huhne primed for promotion.

Many of these people could be in Government in three years time.

Watch closely.


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