Have you read the Times over the last few months? You have? Then, you’ll know that it has a very simple prescription for what the Lib Dems should do. Essentially it is this: dump all that social liberal nonsense, embrace economic liberalism and turn ourselves into the UK equivalent of the German FDP. The shorthand they use for this is “modernisation.”
So, when Ming starts crowing about how the Times has not only backed him, but is emphasising his “modernising” agenda, one can only conclude that his campaign is speaking in the same code. Except of course that they will deny it.
In many respects, this endorsement is more damning than Toynbee’s endorsement of Chris Huhne – note how Chris’ campaign team chose not to mention that endorsement on their website (very wise). In the past I have dismissed sentiments such as John Harris’ claim that Ming is the “Orange Book Trojan Horse” as a) not understanding what the Orange Book is and b) overestimating the so-called “Orange Bookers.” But this decision to wear the Times’ badge with pride does rather lend credence that it is David Laws, not Shirley Williams, who has got Ming’s ear.
Put simply: what does it say about Ming that he is happy to accept the endorsement of both the Guardian and the Times? We have reached the limits of the “all things to all people” approach, and it is time we defined ourselves better. Both papers endorse Ming for entirely different reasons: who is he going to disappoint?