The Liberals have had a bit of a chequered history, haven’t they? There have been so many trial and tribulations along the track that one can only suspect that they are accident prone – or more so than any other party perhaps?
If we go back in history a hundred and fifty years. the Liberals were one of the big two along with the Conservatives. That all changed with the arrival of the Labourites in the nineteen-twenties, didn’t it? They rose from the ashes of the 1950s & 60s and had a couple of years brief further taste of semi-power in the late seventies, when we had the Lib-Lab pact (under leader David Steel) which kept Labour’s PM Jim Callaghan in government (without the Liberals sharing power). Then they got into bed with the Social Democrats (1981-8) to fight as mercenaries together (under Steel & Owen) before they fell out. They finally joined up with them though over twenty-five years ago as the LibDems, and had progressively become the party of haven for the disillusioned voters and those showing popular discontent. Hardworking diligent honest activists, particularly at grassroots local level, brought them countrywide respect as well as a shed load of Councillors and moreover MPs. They became the favourite haven for the mid-term protest vote and a force to be feared and trounced by in any by-election didn’t they?
But life has suddenly changed for the LibDems hasn’t it? Yes, it changed starting five years ago, when although they failed to capitalise on a favourable pre general election position, they still retained a sizable gaggle of more than fifty MPs in a hung parliament. Enough members indeed to entice the Conservative Leader David Cameron to invite them to join him at the table of power.
It was the opportunity of a lifetime for their leader Nick Clegg, wasn’t it? It was a difficult situation no less, because the LibDems had hated the Tories and Toryism with a vengeance for decades, and in many constituencies had promoted themselves with the slogan “the only ones who can defeat the Tories here” – now they ARE the TORIES!
The deal (with the devil?) was that the LibDems would keep the Tories in power for five years, support the main thrust of a Conservative led government and abandon some of their long held principles; all in return for Cabinet positions of power, and promises to allow change to constituency voting to bring in proportional representation, and moreover reform of the House of Lords. The naive LibDems really thought that the Conservatives wouldn’t ensure that those two things would NEVER happen, eh?
They have been left now after five years in government with having achieved nothing whatsoever for their Party, being implicated in a disastrous fiscal policy that brought in a second recession (and nearly a third), flat lining recovery for four years, and a blatant failure to clear the annual Deficit as promised in five years (despite crippling austerity), and DOUBLING the National Debt to boot (MORE has been borrowed in the last five years than the previous thirteen years under Labour) – not to mention the near destruction of the NHS.
[Even the ‘previously respected’ ex-Leader Paddy Ashdown had the effrontery to claim on TV recently that the financial ills of Britain were all down to Labour’s mis-management of the economy – when we all know that it was in reality a global crash caused by the sycophantic bankers, that resulted in the necessity to bail-out the UK banking system which then impoverished us all].
The LibDems claim that the Tories would have done ‘even worse things’ if they hadn’t been constrained – which ignores the fact that it was the LibDems that let the Conservative Rottweiler off the leash in the first place.
The general public have of course abandoned the LibDems like a group with the plague. The party used to be third in line and polled around over twenty percent of the national vote, but over the life of this parliament their support has totally evaporated – they have even lost eleven deposits during this period (meaning each time getting less than one-twentieth of the cast votes). At best they might get six percent of the vote in the next election, and limp in fifth, behind the Greens. It is forecast that they are going to be wiped out in Scotland by the SNP and could even lose frontrunner Oxbridge Invernesser Danny Alexander Treasury Chief Secretary. Moreover, Deputy PM and Lord President of the Council Nick Clegg could well struggle to retain his own Sheffield seat as he, whether fairly or not, has become the toxic image of his Party, as a result of their false pledge to vote against any increase in student fees which they then trebled.
The Leaders of the LibDems remain upbeat in their public ‘phoenix style’ statements now like we “will finish the job and finish it fairly”. Fat chance of that don’t you think? They talk about past setbacks and recoveries. But they are on a loser this time round, don’t you think? They are seen not as brave fighters sacrificing things for their Country, but as power hungry principle less ‘chancers’, who don’t deserve to exercise power. They are of course making manifesto promises now on all kinds of things, including the economy – but nobody will believe a word that is printed or comes out of their mouths, surely?
We will all always have a soft spot for the liberalers, but not many of us are going to ever vote for them again are we?
[The LibDem leaders have destroyed a wonderful party organisation of commendable values, for the sake of their own gratification & personal reputations. So the next manifesto will unfortunately be the last chapter in their book so say goodbye to political liberal principles, everybody – no longer to be resurgent in your lifetime perhaps?].