The first day of term is always going to be a bit miserable, but I was cheered this morning by Nick Clegg's appearance on BBC Breakfast talking about social mobility.
One of the things that impressed me, was that when asked about declining poll numbers he chose to answer the question directly. He could have talked about the thousands of new members who have joined the Liberal Democrats since the Coalition was formed. He could have talked, as Mark Pack made the point on Sky the other night, about how Labour were ahead in the polls 3 months after Thatcher came to power only to then lose 3 subsequent elections. These points would have been valid. What he did acknowledge was that some people who had voted Liberal Democrat hadn't got what they expected, but that the Government needed to be judged on 5 years, not 3 months.
I think he's right. He's saying that the Government should be judged at the next election on whether it's made Britain a fairer, greener place to live.
And if you needed any more proof that the Liberal Democrats were having an impact on this Government, can you really imagine a Deputy Prime Minister in a Conservative Government bothering about social mobility enough to make a big thing about it and to try to do something about it? It speaks volumes that the Labour Party, who did precious little to improve people's life chances, have dismissed one of their own who wants to help the Government with this all sorts of horrid names. I mean, collaborator, really? To compare Alan Milburn to those who helped the Nazis is utterly despicable and especially so when it comes from the Twitter Feed of former Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott.
I'm not saying I always feel completely at ease with everything the Coalition Government is doing - you know that I am very uneasy about the benefit reforms - but I think it's clear that the Liberal Democrats are adding much more value than their 20% of ministerial portfolios would suggest.