It's no happy New Year for the Lib Dems

IN his New Year message to Leeds supporters, the city's Liberal Democrat leader Stewart Golton praises his party's courage.

He says that Nick Clegg's increasingly beleaguered party "holds on to all its beliefs and values" while fully supporting the coalition Government and its policies.

Such an assertion will no doubt come as a surprise to the scores of former Lib Dem voters who are abandoning the party in their droves amid a growing sense of disillusionment and anger sparked by its uneasy power-sharing deal with the Tories.

Just last week the Lib Dems' poll rating plunged to its lowest level since June 1990 in a survey that also showed the Government's approval rating had dropped to a record low of minus 20 per cent. And it's not hard to see why.

The geniality of the old pals' act Clegg and Cameron performed for the cameras last summer has been replaced nine months later by back-biting and disenchantment.

A number of Liberal Democrats have expressed their unhappiness at an arrangement born of short-term expediency that has forced them to abandon long-held principles.

And, while the Lib Dems have obtained a few concessions from the Conservatives over issues such as identity cards and Trident, they have given more ground over matters such as student tuition fees, which many observers see as nothing short of a betrayal of liberal ideology.

Coun Golton notes politicians are commonly accused by voters of putting party before country, adding: "They certainly cannot say that about the Liberal Democrats."

He's not kidding.

At this rate, if and when the coalition crumbles, the Lib Dems can look forward to a lengthy stretch in the icy wastes of the political wilderness.

Parents' lifeline

WHEN Nicky Emsley's son Josh was born 13 weeks early she says she went into meltdown.

The tot spent three-and-a-half months in hospital as his mum endured an agonising wait to see if he survived.

During that difficult period she found a lifeline in the form of support group Bliss.

And now that Josh is fit and healthy Nicky is repaying her debt of gratitude by setting up a local branch of the organisation to support other mums and dads in the same boat.

We wish her and friend Cally Albrecht all the best with the group.

New parents need all the help they can get – even more so when their new arrivals put in an appearance well before they're ready for them.

Old Spice

1997 was the year Tony Blair swept to power and Cool Britannia was in full swing, with bands like Oasis and the Spice Girls leading the way.

Now the success of homegrown Mel B and her four pals is to be re-lived in a new exhibition in Leeds.

It's a golden opportunity to reminisce and soak up the heady optimism of that exciting era.

Let's face it, we could all use some of that at the moment.

The presenters of children's television programme 'Blue Peter' in 1972 (from left) Peter Purves, Lesley Judd, Valerie Singleton and John Noakes with his dog 'Shep'. PA Wire

Rob Atkinson: Don’t knock the golden age of the 70s