For almost my entire life, Montgomeryshire has been represented by a Liberal/Liberal Democrat. Everyone admired Clement Davies (MP when I was too young to care). I hugely admired Emlyn Hooson personally, and still do today. I look on him as a good friend. And Alex Carlile was my next door neighbour, and acknowledged as an outstandingly able MP. And I know Lembit Opik. So both as a resident of Montgomeryshire, and as a Parliamentary Candidate who hopes to represent the grand old county in Westminster after the next General Election, it follows that I take an interest in what the Lib Dems are saying.
Well, its very difficult to be sure. It seems to change very frequently. In general I've always thought of them as being in favour of higher public spending - which translates into higher taxation. The Lib Dems have been fighting elections on a policy of more public spending for as long as I can remember. And then there's the matter of European integration. The one political party in the UK that was fully signed up to the European ideal is the Lib Dems. And then there's a few secondary issues like proportional representation and a Local income Tax. Can't think of much else, if we discount the waffle. So what the h*** is going on at their Bournemouth Conference.
Former leader, Charles Kennedy was on the Politics Show today. "Taxation is too high" he said - and added that he wants to see "Smaller Government" and people having "More disposable income". This is just for starters. Nick Clegg's spin doctors have been badgering every TV studio to allow him in to tell us that he wants to cut the overall tax burden - not just a switch from the 'poor' to the 'rich'. 4p off income tax and at least £20 billion off public spending. And Vince Cable has been going round rubbishing the idea of the UK joining the Euro. That's right. The Lib Dems playing the Eurosceptic card! Its b***** amazing. Even Charles Kennedy said today that the time for joining the Euro is not now - and I thought he was the most Europhile politician in the UK. And I understand that the Lib Dem's in the Scottish Parliament are opposing the SNP's proposal to introduce a Local Income Tax. What next? Perhaps they'll be in favour of 'first-past-the-post' as a system of election tomorrow.
Seems to me that its not a question of whether these are sensible policy changes. Its more a question of whether the Liberal Democrats actually believe in anything at all, or ever did.