THE BLOG
01/08/2012 20:07 BST | Updated 01/10/2012 06:12 BST

This Lib Dem Activist Is Clear: Don't Tie Us Into Spending Cuts Post 2015...We Need an Economic Stimulus!

You see the trouble of getting into political bed with the Tories, and with us being by far the smaller party, is that we get tainted with the same drab, grubby brush they use... but we end up taking more of the flack because people do - or at least did - expect better from us.

I'm proud that, in the Liberal Democrats, it is we members who get to make policy. Our twice-yearly federal Conferences really do mean something. Not for us for the US-Convention style week-long rally favoured by the Conservatives or, indeed, the equally redundant annual gathering of the Labour Party.

No, in the Lib Dems we believe in democracy and that we are, more than anything else, a political party run by its grass roots.

Now, of course, I accept that just because we members make our party policy doesn't necessarily mean that'll become coalition government policy. That's the nature of pluralist politics; of parties working together.

The most famous example, of course, being that of university tuition fees. Lib Dem Party policy was - and, in fact, still remains - that we oppose tuition fees and wish to see them abolished. Of course we know that, due to both of the other major parties supporting higher fees, we were left between a rock and a hard place. A position we've found ourselves in on a number of issues since those heady days of May 2010.

But I very strongly believe that, on economic matters, we should stop being little 'mini-me's' of the Tories (which is how some people see us) and start setting out a positive-post 2015 alternative - which isn't about further cuts to public spending but offers a different, better vision.

A future not of an ever-increasing rolling back of the State, but rather of how an empowering, enabling State can help create a better country for all of our people.

There's no doubt that my party has done many good, decent and progressive things as part of this coalition - from taking millions of moderate and low-paid people out of paying income tax altogether, to re-linking pensions to earnings, to the Pupil Premium, the Youth Contract, the Green New Deal, and restoring our civil liberties. These are things of which we can be proud.

But when I read of Remploy factories being closed, of homelessness increasing, of Legal Aid being rolled back, of libraries in danger of closing, I can't help but wonder whether the gains we're making are not being at least partially cancelled out by the pain being inflicted in our name, even if not at our behest?

You see the trouble of getting into political bed with the Tories, and with us being by far the smaller party, is that we get tainted with the same drab, grubby brush they use... but we end up taking more of the flack because people do - or at least did - expect better from us.

I've begrudgingly accepted that we're probably in this Coalition all the way through to 2015, but we most certainly should not be committing ourselves to spending cuts beyond that date.

Not only because we need to be offering that alternative vision I set out earlier, but also because - if we get another balanced Parliament (and you never know) - we could end up in a progressive Coalition with Labour and possibly other centre-left party's who may have wildly different priorities for the country.

I read in the papers, this week, that-if our leadership do try and in any way force us into accepting spending cuts-there may well be an emergency motion put to our autumn federal Conference at Brighton in September, rejecting such a move. I - and I'm sure many, many others - would support such a motion.

The austerity agenda clearly hasn't worked. What we need is an economic stimulus and a new 'New Deal' on jobs. Not more cuts, but sensible spending increases. A new green economy.

Growth which will give confidence to consumers to get out onto our high streets and spend money.

Of course there are those in my Party-a minority I'd argue - who'd reject all of this and who believe further spending cuts are exactly what we need. Well, I say let's have that debate.

Let's have it in an adult manner and out in the open.

And let's see who wins a vote on any motion on the matter which may be presented to us in September.

Having such a debate may even remind many of our former voters what they once liked about us.