Well, here are five to begin with…
We hadn’t even got to lunch and the Lib Dem press office accidentally emailed journalists its ‘lines to take’ memo to MPs. Some very charitable hacks thought it was a genius ruse to get the party’s main lines in the press.
Anyway, important as these issues are, you could certainly accuse the press office of expecting an easier ride for the party’s politicians than the media will give them. Let’s try to help the press office out…
Ok, so it’s slightly uncomfortable to know one of your former ministers is quitting Parliament in despair at Nick Clegg’s leadership of the party. And she might have cited Coalition policies like the benefits cap and plans for making some immigrants pay a financial “bond” before entering Britain, but that doesn’t mean we’re not a caring party.
Remember: she was a weirdo; the kind of liberal that bellyaches about immigrants while voting against gay marriage. If they ask about her then smile, shake your head, and maybe remind them about her stand up set.
If we’re honest, we’d rather he hadn’t popped up before the conference and complained about how he was victimised by the Murdoch press. If they ask how Lib Dem ministers can prevent it happening in future, on no account make any of these suggestions:
1) Don’t speed.
2) Don’t get a family member to take your points.
3) Especially when she’s upset about an affair you’re having.
4) Don’t then lie about 1-3.
5) Don’t let another newspaper that’s nothing to do with Rupert Murdoch break the story.
6) Don’t spend months trying to get the case chucked out of court, before failing.
Because that just makes it look worse. Concentrate on the achievements. Like that energy summit or something.
But if they ask, there’s no problem here. Yes, our former chief executive and a former MP have both been accused of sexual assault and two days ago the Daily Mail was reporting on how older men in the Lib Dems hug younger women and then ‘do the slip’ to touch them on the bottom, but we are taking action, and that’s the important thing.
From now on, anyone short-listed to become an MP or a councillor will undergo anti-sexism training. As we all know, if there’s one thing that’ll cure institutional sexism, it’s a training course.
Look, we’re not saying you can’t talk about the issue. We’re just saying you can’t call it the Bedroom Tax. You have to call it the spare room subsidy.
And we’re not saying it should be withdrawn, we’re just saying there should be no withdrawal of housing benefit from those on the waiting list for social housing which meets the current guidelines and that there should be an exemption for those who “temporarily have a smaller housing need due to a change in their circumstances, but whose need will predictably return to a higher level.”
We hardly think we can have a clearer stance than that.
Now excuse us, we have to lock Shirley Williams in the basement for the next few days.
5. Remember not to talk about the fact that no one likes us.
When you see a popularity poll from YouGov showing Conservatives on 33%, Labour on 39% and us on 9%, you could easily conclude it’s bad news.
But it’s not. 9% is something to build on. We’re rebranding. We’re going to be the new Oxfam.
And Nick Clegg’s the man to take us there. Ok, there was that other slightly embarrassing poll showing he’s less popular among his own party than the other two leaders, but you can prove anything with numbers.
This is a bright new dawn comrades! Just remember to say the right things.