Friday, 17 October 2008

Controversial Policies - Drop or Explain?

Himmelgarten Cafe has picked up on Chris Huhne defending judges ignoring minimum sentences and giving lower sentences and wonders whether we will, over time, avoid being crucified by the right-wing/populist press.

Well, I think it's the only strategy we can go with. If we are to have the numerous sensible, well-thought out policies that are also controversial or easily badly spun by our opponents that we undoubtedly and rightly do have, then hiding them away and hoping no-one will notice is not an option.

Because they will notice and they will say nothing now, but will bring them up at election time in a blaze of publicity when it is too late to even try and explain the nuances.

Unless we plan to drop these policies altogether (which would be bad) we have no choice but to get them out there and start defending them repeatedly as soon as possible.

One of reasons the establishment parties and media can characterise us as flip-flopping when we actually have the most stable and consistent platform of all the parties (since our inception) is that sometimes the answer really is "yes and no". We're never going to be able to overcome this in the current soundbite debate. So either we dilute our principles or we find better ways of explaining ourselves.

I know conventional wisdom is that people don't look at literature for very long and you can't get away with any kind of detailed argument but I've always wondered whether the party literature topbods could produce a serious of single issue (and I really mean single issue) foci that would explain one of our nuances positions (Why mandatory sentences are bad, Why should drug possessors not go to jail, etc.) in detail. Maybe a "What We Think" series. (since no one bloody knows anyway!)

I suspect this may be pie in the sky but one can dream...

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