Thursday, April 26, 2018

Good and bad reasons not to support the Lib/Dems

There are a whole slew of good reasons not to vote Lib/Dem.

Their attitude to the EU referendum result has come very close to sticking up two fingers at the British electorate and even some people who voted Remain but accept the majority decision - including me - find he attitude of those who seem determined to try to overturn the result to be unhelpful and damaging.

At a local level, particularly where they are strong, Lib/Dem tactics are often, shall we say, controversial. There are considerable swathes of the country where if you ask all the other parties, "which of your opponents use the dirtiest tactics" they will reply in unison "The Lib/Dems." (In Cumbria that would certainly be the answer given by my Conservative colleagues in South Lakes and when I lived in St Albans this was the answer which would have been given by all the other parties there and in much of the rest of the East of England.

Lib/Dems in local government often have a history of being brilliant at campaigning and opposition but utterly hopeless at actually running things. When I have been a member of hung councils I have often found it easier to work with the grown-up wing of the Labour party than with Lib/Dems because the former understood the concept of keeping their word.

But if there are good reasons not to vote for the Lib/Dems there are also bad reasons.

I was pleasantly surprised by how often during the coalition period Lib/Dem MPs put the national interest above their own.

Their biggest problem at this period was, of course, the broken promise on student tuition fees, and I can certainly understand the view of those who were very angry about that broken promise, but not those who moved their votes for this reason from the Lib/Dems to the Labour party which has an even worse record of broken promises on that very issue.

The Labour party's campaign of personal abuse against Nick Clegg during the 2015 general election included some of the most hypocritical political material I have ever seen in my life, because they vilified him for promising to vote against increases in student fees and then voting for them - exactly the same promise which the Labour party had made during the 2001 general election and broke afterwards. That wasn't the first or last broken Labour promise to students either - they had introduced tuition fees in the first place two months after winning the 1997 election during which Tony Blair had promised that Labour "has no plans to introduce tuition fees for higher education."

An article this week on the Reactions website seeking to explain why the Lib/Dems appear to have disappeared from the national stage had me holding my head in disbelief. There are many good reasons not to vote Lib/Dem but their being responsible, reasonable and moderate and therefore somehow boring does not strike me as one of them.

However, Mattie Brignal argues that "The line dividing celebrity culture and politics is becoming increasingly blurred."

Consequently "The expectation for entertainment has spilled over into politics" and "disproportionate coverage is given to those who entertain by being eccentric and shocking in their manner, appearance and views because this is what commands viewers’ attention. This trend has made outrageous ‘authenticity’ the flavour of the week."

Brignal argues that Lib/Dem leader Sir Vince Cable

"is moderate, avuncular and therefore considered boring. As such it’s hard for him to gain traction in a media environment which caters to a public that increasingly expects to be shocked and entertained as well as informed. Policy has given way to personality and sensible centrism is a hard sell."

God help the country if this explanation for the Lib/Dems' lacklustre performance in the polls is right.

Britain needs a credible opposition and I can no longer see the Labour party providing one. It would be a great shame if the Lib/Dems were deprived of the chance to do so for such a ridiculous reason.

7 comments:

Jim said...

Again there are a few ways to look at this one. For example the Lib Dems are responsible for what I still think is the greatest policy of the coalition government, that was raising the Income tax threshold.

I think they should have stuck more to their guns on the Tuition fees. That cost them a lot of credibility with their voters.

I also was amazed that, although they were pushing for PR, quite understandable for a party who has been so badly punished by FPTP, but at the first wiff of power they accepted a deal on AV.

They also voted against Boundary changes which they had agreed to vote in favour of in return for the referendum, they got the referendum, lost it and so voted against boundary changes. - One of the demands of the Chartists.

Thing is with the history of the Liberal Democrats so proudly nailing their colours to the mast as "The party of IN" its hard to see how they would ever change or come to terms with the fact that they lost the Brexit referendum. I guess it would be like the conservative party having to back high tax, high regulation, and huge government.

Chris Whiteside said...

Indeed - though if we called a referendum and it went that way, we would have to.

Jim said...

Ok that is a fair point, now here is the crux, if the conservative party did call a referendum on those things, and lost it, so decided they had to back those things, would You personally remain a member of the Conservative party?

You see the conflict there?

Jim said...

I know you voted remain, and I accept that. But I also know that you know the sky does not have to fall in for a leave vote to work, I know this because i also know you read Flexcit. I know its not going against your entire grain as it were.

but that is just it, Its going against every grain of a Lib Dem, Much like High tax, big government and High heavy regulation goes against the grain of a tory.

Chris Whiteside said...

My problem in the circumstance you describe would not be with the Conservative party, it would be with the fact that we had lost the referendum, but I would probably regard myself as obliged to respect the result.

In fact I actually am in the same position in respect of Brexit - I voted Remain, the electorate voted Leave, I respect the electorate's decision, therefore I agree with the Conservative party policy to respect the referendum result.

That ought to go apply in the same way to a party which is supposed to be so committed to democracy that it has the word "Democrats" as part of the party name.

Jim said...

A good rule of thumb is when ever you see democratic, or democrats in the name, then the entity is not very democratic.

A bit like the DPRK - Though at least Kim Jong Un is showing us a bit of hope recently.

Chris Whiteside said...

You're dead right there - regimes and organisations that call themselves Democrats or Democratic usually aren't.