Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Now Cameron Must Show Us What Liberal Conservatism Actually Means.

Simon Heffer sees only disaster ahead for the Liberal Democrats:

The price, however, of any support, formal or otherwise, for the Conservatives will be that the Lib Dems will be widely obliterated when next at the polls. Their Leftists would never forgive them. Labour and the Greens would be the only beneficiaries. And electoral reform? We should believe that when we see it.
I have always said that I have no idea how such a coalition might work. It now transpires that Clegg is more right leaning than I had previously assumed so, perhaps, for him this makes sense.

But the majority of that party has always leaned towards the left of the political spectrum and I can't imagine that they will be left feeling good about how this has played out.

Nor can I imagine how the Tory right will find life with such strange bedfellows.
The deal between the Conservatives and the Lib Dems must pass through the triple lock procedure of the latter party. But the scope for dissent that could bring down a coalition is unlimited. I do not just mean that of Leftist Liberals dissatisfied with progress towards proportional representation, or shocked by the Euroscepticism of their partners, making trouble; I also mean that of the Right of the Tory party, many of whom would, in these circumstances, have much preferred a minority government. And, as the ugly decisions are taken, they will not necessarily bring applause and favour to the party or parties responsible for them.
Heffer thinks that there will be an election within a year and that, within that time, no electoral reform will have been tabled because of the fact that the Tory-Lib-Dem pact will have to concentrate on the economy.

His implication is that Cameron will never allow a vote on electoral reform but will use this time in office to destroy one of his rivals whilst preparing to have a second election in which he imagines his party might do better.

One cannot predict the future, but only have suppositions about it. Here, for what they are worth, are mine. The Lib Dems may have had to endorse such a pact or coalition, but will not like what it might mean in practice. Their activists may either depart or stay where they are, and start to rebel. They will sense the difficulty of fighting an election after a stormy love affair with the Tory party and will react accordingly. In the Tory party, there will be increasingly vocal objections to constitutional reform, not because reactionary figures would raise them for their own sake, but because of genuine fears about the implications for the smooth governance of Britain.

In the Labour Party, they will have one consideration above all others: and that is the length of time they spend in opposition. A Labour MP said to me yesterday: "When I hear colleagues say we could do with a short, refreshing spell in opposition, I say two things to them: 1951 and 1979." The first short, refreshing spell was 13 years; the second 18. Labour will seek to find an attractive new leader, to unite vocally and energetically around him, and to prepare a programme for a new manifesto for an election that could come sooner rather than later.

For, in that election, Labour would expect to do better than it did last week.
In any future election, Labour will do better than they did last week, as the chances are that they will no longer face the split in the progressive vote which the Liberal Democrats always brought about.

I am one of those Labour supporters who think that we need time to regroup, elect a new leader and come back refreshed. And, whilst I understand the arguments about 1951 and 1979, I disagree with them.

Labour was considered toxic back then, which was proven by the fact that no Labour government was ever re-elected. Tony Blair changed all that, and as someone who oft times criticised him, I should give credit where it is due.

Blair removed that image of Labour forever from the public mind; and they rewarded him by re-electing him three times. He really did change the way the public felt about the issue of fairness and it will be very hard to undo the work he did.

It is now the Tories who are considered toxic and Cameron's job now is to prove to the public, as Blair did for them regarding the Labour Party, that our image of that party is all wrong.

He can talk the talk of liberal Conservatism, now he must show that he can walk the walk. Being aligned to the Liberals might just keep him from swaying too far to the right, but the right wing of the Tory Party are going to battle him every inch of the way.

And that could get bloody.


Here are a handful of comments from this Liberal Democrat blog which highlight how this is going down with many who voted for them.
  • Posted 11th May 2010 at 10:02 pm | Permalink

    Though not as willing as you were, clearly. I voted Liberal Democrat in the last three elections because I was disillusioned with Labour but could never contemplate a return to Tory government. I know lots of people who did the same. Needless to say, I won’t be making that mistake again. Neither will they.

  • Andrew
    Posted 11th May 2010 at 10:05 pm | Permalink

    Voted Lib Dem. Got Tory. Won’t make that mistake again.

  • NorthernMonkey
    Posted 11th May 2010 at 10:06 pm | Permalink

    Get real.

    The Liberal Democrats had a choice. They could have joined a progressive coalition or they could have joined with the Tories.

    And they got in bed with the Tories. Not just supporting a Tory minority government, but a FULL coalition! You’ll pay the price for this at the next election.

  • Posted 11th May 2010 at 10:12 pm | Permalink

    I love how we’ve just assured ourselves total electoral annihilation and yet people are *still* trying to suggest we’ve sold out for an easy life.

  • IainM
    Posted 11th May 2010 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    Spin it how you like. The Lib Dems are going to get slaughtered at the next election and you will totally deserve it.

  • Bluelammy
    Posted 11th May 2010 at 10:13 pm | Permalink

    I voted for the first time on wednesday, voting for the Ld. If this coalition with the tories doesn`t work out we all know who will get the blame,and suffer most and it wont be the tories.I did not vote for a torie goverment.

As I suspected, this is going down like a cup of cold sick.

Click here for Heffer's article.

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