HAS Liberal Democrat leader and Deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg shouted loud enough about his party’s achievements in government (your report, 9 October)?
For more than four years Mr Clegg has laboured in the shadow of his broken pledge on tuition fees for students south of the Border, and has paid the price for appearing, often unjustly, to be second fiddle in a coalition that has often seemed in disarray.
His party’s disastrous election results in the Holyrood poll of 2011 and last May’s European ballot, not to mention local authority votes and by-elections, have certainly been due to these factors. But they were also due to a failure of strength, will and presentation.
Make no mistake, there have been things for the Lib Dems to shout about.
Firstly, helping to ensure some control of the budget deficit, the alternative to which would have been market instability. In the event of such upheaval, it is those on middle and low incomes who would have suffered. Secondly, the Lib Dems helped raise the tax threshold in a way that has helped many in those income groups.
The Scotland Act 2012 may be a convoluted measure, but it has been Lib Dem influence that has helped ensure some extension of the powers of the Scottish Parliament. It is an achievement all the more remarkable because the Lib Dems’ more powerful coalition partner has not been seen, until recently, as an enthusiast for more devolution.
There are other social measures, such as free school meals for some primary pupils in England, about which Mr Clegg can be proud. Assuming the responsibilities of government may have disillusioned many of his supporters in the relatively short run but his is a more mature, seasoned party as a result.