Lembit Opik was in Glasgow on September 23 for the 2008 launch of the student Liberal Democrat party.
The event, held at Curlers Bar on Byres Road, marks the beginning of an already successful year for the student organisation, which has increased its membership significantly through its Freshers’ Week activities.
Mr. Opik, the MP for Montgomeryshire, spoke to students about Liberal Democrat policy and the problems currently facing the party. He told Guardian that one of the main issues was that of improving the way his party engages with the general public.
He said: “We need to talk in an ordinary language to ordinary people. That is a challenge of presentation, and we’re not doing it as well as we could.”
When asked about the recent moves the Liberal Democrats have taken to address the recession – a controversial set of tax cuts that have led some to believe the party has abandoned its high public-spending credentials – Mr. Opik explained why he supported the new policies.
He said: “I was nervous about the party’s tax changes until I actually understood them. In reality what we’re saying is we’ll take more money from the rich and give it to the less wealthy.”
Reserving a note of criticism for David Cameron, Mr. Opik claimed that the opposition party values style over substance, and as a result is short on policy.
Of the Conservative leader, he said: “He has no political narrative whatsoever”.
Any perception in the media of an economic u-turn did nothing to dent Mr. Opik’s confidence of the Lib Dem’s future prospects. When asked by Guardian what his party would need to do in order to succeed at the next general election, he spoke about the need for politicians to re-examine their means of communication.
He said: “All we need is for our politics to be in primary colours. We need clear policies that make sense and aren’t patronising.”
The president of the University Liberal Democrats, Sophie Hall, expressed her confidence in the party’s future prospects.
She told Guardian: “If everybody who wanted to vote for us did, we would win at the next election.”