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Archive for the ‘lib dems’ tag

Lib Dems: Blowing it here.

May 6th, 2011 at 4:38 pm

There's no referendum the Lib Dems could support that would win.

Poor Lib Dems. It all seemed so exciting and new when the Coalition was formed… then they increased Tuition Fees to £9,000. In a stroke they lost the nearest thing to a natural constituency they had – namely students – and left everyone else not quite able to shake the idea that Lib Dems are untrustworthy mercenaries interested only in the fortunes and successes of the Liberal Democrat Party itself.

Is that unfair? Well, yes, up to a point. There’s only one real policy that the Lib Dems as a whole care about, that’s not open to negotiation, and that’s Proportional Representation – which, sadly, reinforces the idea that all Lib Dems really care about is the fortune and success of the Liberal Democrat Party.

Still, because of this, the one non-negotiable concession they wanted from the Conservatives was the referendum on electoral reform, in this case on AV (which, just possibly, might lead to another Coalition and a further referendum for PR). It was a classic example of short term tactical thinking triumphing over long term strategic thinking.

What astonishes me is why anyone imagined that any referendum put forward by the Lib Dems so soon into the life of the Coalition would ever be supported by the public. We all know the circumstances that led to the referendum, and we all know that the Lib Dems desperately want it to succeed. It’s my belief that no matter the question, people would always have voted against the Lib Dems out of spite. Labour and Tory alike, the Lib Dems aren’t where they should be and their wrath will not be easily diminished. If the Lib Dems said that food was good, people would stop eating.

The Lib Dems had one strategic objective going into the Coalition, and that was to prove to everyone how trustworthy and competent they were, how their ideas when put into practice delivered real benefits and improved people’s lives. They blew it, instantly, and for what? A shoddy referendum for a pointless reform. Without trust, politicians are nothing.

If they’d been willing to go into Coalition without the referendum promise then people might – just might – have been willing to believe that they went into the partnership in the national interest rather than their own. If they’d successfully established themselves as trustworthy and competent then maybe, just maybe, the next time they were in Coalition people would see it as a good thing and look more kindly on their efforts at reform.

Yet this whole strategy of reforming Britain’s electoral system by exploiting hung parliaments looks as squalid and desperate as it ever did. This is a party that has long since abandoned any ideas it might have of winning an election in its own right and has instead taken a path which the voters, quite rightly, resent and object to.

If they want PR, they need to win a bloody general election. That’s all there is to it.

Traitors! Turncoats! Liars!

May 12th, 2010 at 9:44 am

Labour finds itself agreed on one thing: It's all the Lib Dem's fault

As Labour disappear off into opposition ready to tear themselves apart, they’ve found themselves in agreement about one thing:

The Coalition isn’t the fault of all those people who voted Tory, giving them the 306 seats.

It’s not their own fault for running up a budget deficit of £175 billion and running a Government based on spin and celebrity, pandering to the The Sun and the Daily Mail on law and order and immigration, waging George Bush’s War on Terror here in the UK and, most unforgivably of all, treating Civil Liberties as something a ‘modern’ society doesn’t need. Nope, it’s not their own fault.

Who’s fault is the Coalition? That’s right: It’s the Liberal Democrats fault, you traitors! You liars! Obviously the Labour Party would never have compromised their principled objection to economic sanity by doing a deal with the Lib Dems, so that left the Lib Dems with the one option they were supposed to take: Don’t do the deal and help bring down the minority Tory Government within a few months. Then there’d be another election, Labour would be returned to power with a new leader and we’d all go back to living in a Progressive Paradise(tm)

You know, I’m looking at this narrative and wondering just how out of touch and crazy Labour really are likely to become. For all the trite talk of a “New Politics” this Coalition is exactly that. Partisan, tribal politics has been ditched in favour of compromise, negotiation and attempts at harmony.

Do Labour seriously think that the real people, the normal ordinary voters that don’t get quite so involved, will see more virtue in Labour’s principled objection to co-operation, or will they reward the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats for doing something no-one really believed possible?

The Lib Dems have played their hand extremely well. They’ve taken an opportunity to get a lot of their manifesto turned into real living Government policy, and in return they just had to avoid their instincts to become partisan bores about it.

I think history will show Labour to have been on the wrong side of this particular movement, no matter how confident they feel that others will share their tribalist dogma.

Hung Parliament: Do what you want, we don’t care.

November 23rd, 2009 at 1:28 pm

There's only one winner in the event of a hung parliament: Politicians.

What would the Lib Dems do in the event of a hung parliament? The Tories are slipping down the polls (I’m blaming their constant “When we’re in government” tone,  talking about Lisbon and the recent wave of pity for Gordon). It’s possible that no clear winner will emerge from the general election, forcing the parties to do deals with each other in order to form a government.

I thought this matter was settled. I thought Nick had ruled out a coalition with Labour. Apparently not!

The ground has shifted again and Nick Clegg has elaborated on the party’s position:

I start from a very simple first principle – it is not Gordon Brown or David Cameron or Nick Clegg who are kingmakers in British politics – it’s the British people.

So the votes of the British people are what should determine what happens afterwards.

… which all sounds fair enough, but he’s left himself some wriggle room here – does mandate mean popular vote or the number of seats? It’s a crucial question considering how few votes Labour needs to win a seat in comparison with the Conservatives (and the effect is exaggerated still further for the Liberal Democrats).

The idea that the public are the kingmakers is a noble one, but there’s a problem – the single biggest vote will be for the ‘couldn’t care less who wins’ party, that will make up anything between 40-60% of the eligible voters, making them the nearest thing to a ‘majority opinion.’

The real mandate is ‘do what you want, we don’t care, you’re all the same, my vote doesn’t matter anyway.’

Even if, say, the Tory and Lib Dem vote adds up to more than 50% of the votes of all eligible voters and they go into coalition, there’s still a problem: Neither party has a mandate from the majority for their policies, so how do you decide which policies to go with?

Or have we all got so used to the idea that the government doesn’t need a mandate from the majority (just a majority) that we don’t care anymore?

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