FT editorial: Lib Dems' "ultimate selling point is they are not like the other parties"

by Stephen Tall on June 25, 2009

Following on from yesterday’s feature interview with Nick Clegg, today’s Financial Times carries a generous editorial on the Lib Dems and the party’s contribution to British politics:

Nick Clegg, the leader of the Liberal Democrats, has said that it is “not beyond the realms of possibility” that his party could move into second place at the next election, ahead of Labour. His party might well receive more votes than Labour; they nearly managed that feat in 1983. …

Of the big national parties, only they opposed the war in Iraq and only they have consistently opposed Labour’s illiberalism. Thanks to Vince Cable, their economic spokesman, the Lib Dems have also been prominent in the debate on the financial crisis.

At the moment, they are also leading the debate on the country’s fiscal dilemma. Whereas the main parties continue to exchange bromides, the Lib Dems have made the bold, if contentious, decision not to support renewal of the UK’s Trident nuclear deterrent.

Offering clarity when others prefer obfuscation is a valuable public service. Even if the Lib Dems do not win, they flush out the inconsistencies of their opponents. In their eagerness to become one of Britain’s governing parties, the Liberal Democrats must avoid becoming risk-averse. Their ultimate selling point is they are not like the other parties.

Okay, so the FT is not the Daily Mail. It’s read by a small number of potential Lib Dem voters. But, still, it’s noteworthy that (1) the paper felt it was worth devoting an editorial to the Lib Dems’ prospects, and (2) when it did so, it’s given the party a positive report.