Letter: Lib Dem policy

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The Independent Online
Sir: Donald Macintyre got one thing right in his column ("Ashdown ran away from telling the harsh truth", 25 September). The Liberal Democrats do indeed love their leader!

But when Mr Macintyre asserts that Paddy Ashdown's reminder of the possible need to compromise on some details of our constitutional reform goals was ignored in two subsequent Lib Dem conference votes, he is wrong. Compromise is not the same as advance compliance.

It is perfectly reasonable that we Liberal Democrats should set out our preferred model of London government as a response to the current green paper. We believe that a US-style arrangement of a directly elected mayor "scrutinised" by a separately elected assembly would not suit London. The concentration in one pretty much unfettered individual of the powers that we want drawn down from central government could result in the nightmare of a corrupt dictator. If the prime minister/parliament model is good enough for our country, why is it not (appropriately scaled down) good enough for London regional government?

Similarly, it is entirely reasonable that we should confirm our belief that the Single Transverable Vote is the best electoral system.

The Liberal Democrats would not deserve a leader of the quality of Paddy Ashdown if they sent him "naked" into talks with the joint Cabinet committee.

Sarah Ludford

London N1