The Lib-Dems: a lesson in how to shoot yourself in both feet and the head at the same time

by Ray_North on December 5, 2011

As I sit at my computer poised to write about the Lib-Dems, I always find myself adopting a facial expression of ‘more in sympathy than in anger’ – well, not any more because the Lib-Dems are no longer worthy of sympathy.

Last week, three of their senior Parliamentarians said three things of staggering stupidity:
first, Nick Clegg repeated his assertion that it would take a lifetime before Labour could be trusted on the economy again; then, Danny Alexander, effectively signed the Lib-Dems up to two years, post election austerity; and third, Paddy Ashdown repeated the increasingly ludicrous claim that at the next general election the voters will thank the Lib-Dems for taking the ‘hard decisions’ (amazingly, he even cited the example of Thatcher and the 1983 general election in support of this argument, I mean, are the Lib-Dems now telling us that actually the Thatcher years were a ‘good thing!’)

So where do these three statements leave the Lib-Dems? Well, effectively, they are left going into the next general election as the party that has reneged on the promises it made at the last one, and has now declared that they are fully signed up to more austere economic Thatcherism; similarly, we know that there is no chance that they’ll coalesce with Labour, because, they think that Labour can’t be trusted on the economy – which at the next general election will be the single biggest issue. So, in a stroke the Lib-Dems have adroitly managed to alienate all those voters who would put themselves on the progressive left of political spectrum (and there are many of them), and who have voted Lib-Dem either tactically or on principle in the past.

At the same time, Captain Ashdown’s assertion that the voters will ‘thank’ them for their toughness could see them lose support from the right – I mean, if you think that the Osborne programme has been a success, then aren’t you pretty much going to say so by voting Tory? And aren’t you going to wary of voting Lib-Dem, just in case you let in the dreaded Labour Party with their awful profligate ways!

Sadly for the Lib-Dems then (there, I couldn’t help a smidgen of sympathy), they have managed to spectacularly alienate themselves from their supporters on the left and right and as such they will go into the general election reliant upon their absolute core support which will see them crushed.

They will have no one to blame but themselves.

{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

George_East December 5, 2011 at 3:14 pm

I have to say that this highlights the strategic stupidity of the decision to go into coalition with the Tories that was obvious from the get go, particularly as the overwhelming majority of their seats are Tory/Lib Dem marginals.
As soon as they committed themselves to the Osborne austerity programme there became no reason to vote for them. If you are anti-Tory then there is no distinction (the Lib Dems are fully signed up to turbo-Thatcherism), if you are pro-Tory you may as well vote for the real thing. I suspect Clegg, Alexander and, sadly the increasingly deranged Captain ‘Keynesianism doesn’t work’ Ashdown will be deludedly telling themselves it was all in the interests of the country for the rest of their lives, as the Lib Dems are reduced to a parliamentary party that can fit comfortably in a People Carrier.


George_East December 5, 2011 at 3:32 pm

Oh and Brad Delong has this take on it. He is right but it will never happen. They are locked in all the way now.


Jackie South December 5, 2011 at 5:37 pm

I am constantly shocked by how united the Lib Dems remain: they can see the iceberg ahead but continue to shout full-steam ahead in unison in the hope that it might melt or something before they get there.

Few seem to be even whispering that a change of course is needed and fewer still seem to be advocating jumping in the lifeboat of a breakaway social democrat Lib Dem party ready to promote the pre-general election platform and at least contemplate a deal with Labour in the future.

A seriously weird bunch!


Eddie Kaye December 6, 2011 at 9:43 am

They are learning the lesson that you can say what you want as the second party in opposition, but not as the junior party in coalition. The alternative vote argument was purely to cement themselves as the latter after future elections, and the electorate rejected that. In their defense, they are the junior partner at the end of the day. However, they seem to have become an over-vocal sleeping partner in the coalition – just waking up every so often to defend themselves rather than challenging policies that they should be idealogically opposed to. I think they will return after the next election to the pre-Jeremy Thorpe days, maybe a dozen MPs if they are lucky – they have alienated their core support and served only to prop up a governement passing more and more illiberal policies daily.

True to the article, they have shot themselves in the foot. Political suicide.


Charlie East-West December 9, 2011 at 11:16 am

Nick Clegg fully endorsed Cameron’s Eurozone veto. This is the ultimate Lib Dem U-turn. Clegg has abandoned the most consistent Lib Dem policy of all – backing European integration come what may. Shame on you Nick Clegg. You are one of them now.


George_East December 9, 2011 at 11:46 am

Charlie – is there anything at all left to distinguish the Clegg Lib Dems from the Tories? I am still astounded as to how a party with such a long and distinctive tradition has been willing to abandon absolutely every core principle in order to get to sit on the government benches, with a barely a murmer of dissent.


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