We have just had the 2014 Council and 2014 EU Election results. Many hardworking Liberal Democrat Councillors have lost their seats, this must be hard. Very much like the many hardworking Labour Councillors losing their seats over a War they did not agree with. I feel for them too.
Let me try to explain why ‘I agree with Nick’, we should not have a leadership election, and coalition was the right thing to do.
In 2010, the UK was in recession, the confidence in the pound was marginal and Greece was possibly going to leave the Eurozone with consequences for Ireland, Portugal, Spain and Italy. The UK needed a Government that gave confidence that the Economy was in good hands.
My preference was that it would be a Liberal Democrat government, but with only 23% of the vote, this was not going to happen. There were the options :
1) Minority Government – No budget would be agreed. The £ would become targeted by the currency markets and it would go down. We lose the NHS, Welfare State. Bad
2) LibDem coalition with Labour – No financial credibility. The Labour Parliamentary Party might be well intentioned, but apparently incompetent.
3) Re-run the Election. Conservatives would get a majority. Good for the City, bad for the UK
So, the least worst option was a LibDem coalition with Conservatives. This saved the pound and protected services to the vulnerable at the cost of the Party. Yes, it was worth it but the apparent lurch of the LibDem Parliamentary party ( with notable exceptions ) towards the hard right disillusioned many voters and activists. “I’ll never trust them again” is the cost.
The logical response is that the LibDems have stopped the worst excesses of the Conservative Party, but as a minority in the coalition, this is limited. Again, this was worth losing the Party for. The emotional response is that the LibDems were trusted with people’s vote and abused it just to get power.
The Coalition was mismanaged in my opinion. Instead of voting along with the Conservatives and trying to spin this as positive, the LibDem MPs should have been honest about how terrible some of the policies were for, but being in a Coalition, this was the price. Compromise.
So, where should the Liberal Democrats go from here.
Be honest. The Coalition was a necessary compromise. The party will fight the 2015 election with Nick as leader and state what it would do if it got a majority. It probably won’t go well, they need to be honest about that was well. Once the General Election is over, elect a new leadership from the left of the party. Try to rebuild the party as the honest party. It will take a generation to get trust back, but I’d love to have a party that I can trust again.
So, personally I am now conflicted. My friends are in the Liberal Democrats, but when I examine policies, I should be voting Green. When knocking on doors, I used to be frustrated with people who voted out of loyalty rather than policies. Now I am one of them. Damn.