Nick Clegg and his party are living in the past History and try’s to strengthen Lib Dem team in Whitehall
Nick Clegg has moved to strengthen his central team in Whitehall as polls show the Liberal Democrats stuck in the doldrums of around 8-11 %, and facing a threat of falling behind the UK Independence party in wake of the growing publicity over the euro's travails.
Clegg has appointing half a dozen more delusional special advisers in an attempt to strengthen his party's clout in Whitehall, especially in the departments where the Lib Dems have only a junior minister or no minister.
Neil Sherlock, a partner in KPMG and well-known Lib Dem supporter, will be his director of external affairs, based in the Cabinet Office. Sherlock is being appointed as a special adviser, and will be taking a substantial pay cut.
One of Sherlock's roles will be to oversee the work of the special advisers and to liaise with outside groups in business and elsewhere.
Clegg has had to repeatedly strengthen his Cabinet Office support since becoming deputy prime minister as Whitehall tries to come to terms with working with a coalition of two parties.
Clegg's civil service team has already been strengthened and his chief of staff Johnny Oates is now based in his office. Joanne Foster, former chief executive of the Welsh Lib Dems, has also been drafted in as deputy chief of staff.
Clegg has also appointed a special adviser to track developments in the Home Office and Ministry of Justice to assist Lord McNally, the senior Liberal Democrat in the Lords, who is also a justice minister. He has a vast job trying to track what happens in the department outside his brief. Similarly Lynne Featherstone, the Home Office minister for equalities, cannot track what else happens in her vast department. A damaging leak of a presentation made by the party's brand adviser to the parliamentary party last week revealed how much lost ground the party needs to make up.
The presentation, made by the party's marketing director Collette Dunkley, admitted that party had lost much of its public identity as a result of joining the coalition. The document called for more 'short-term political expediency' to boost the party's popularity and said the party should claim credit for momentous historic reforms in the past such as the abolition of slavery and the Great Reform Act. (And this is just were the Lib-Dems are living? In the past not England’s future)
Both episodes occurred before the Liberal party was formed, but the brand advisers appear to believe the Lib Dems can take credit for the work of the Whig party, one of the precursors of the Liberal party in the 18th and early 19th centuries.
The Liberal Democrat brand should, the advisers believe, be optimistic, caring and pioneering, its roots are freedom and equality of opportunity, and its aim is to create the most socially mobile and innovative society. It says the party needs to follow groups like Oxfam that have clear campaigning brands.
They suggested that once a "strategic, long-term brand model" for the party had been devised, MPs should discover "shorter-term themes, straplines and sound bites" to "support short-term political expediency". A presentation was illustrated by a diagram showing four different audiences, each of which should be given a different version of the "message'"
The latest Sunday Times YouGov poll published at the weekend shows Labour stretching its lead to nine points, with Labour on 43, the Conservatives 34 and the Lib Dems on 11, six points ahead of Ukip. This the largest Labour lead in a YouGov poll since August and is out of line with other You Gov polls showing Labour with a five-point lead.
Separate polling for Lord Ashcroft shows that Labour is still trailing the Conservatives on economic competence.