Sunday, July 11, 2010

Is Clegg the man leading Lib Dems into oblivion?

I have never understood how this coalition was ever supposed to work and I am not remotely surprised that certain Liberal Democrats are now making their displeasure known.

Mr Clegg will take his 57 MPs on an "away day" to rally support and urge them to remain loyal to a programme of government which their party has already endorsed.

The call for unity comes after a series of internal protests at coalition policies spilled into outright defiance of the leadership. A handful of Lib Dem backbenchers have already attempted to frustrate the Budget proposal to increase VAT to 20 per cent.

Now, almost a dozen Lib Dem MPs have gone public with their opposition to the Education Secretary Michael Gove's decision to scrap more than 700 school building schemes.

The shock caused by the impact of the cuts programme at the heart of their communities has led many to ask whether Mr Clegg has made a mistake in tethering his party to a Tory Party intent on implementing a severe austerity programme.

I personally feel that he has made a colossal mistake, a mistake for which he has been rewarded with a vote on AV, not on PR. And, for that meagre prize, we have witnessed Liberal Democrat MP's lining up on national television and supporting a series of Tory cuts which we all know that in their hearts they despise.

He has led them to a shocking place.

For they will bear the brunt of this much more than the Tories will.
"I am not enjoying government," one senior Lib Dem MP said last night. "We are being asked to defend some ugly policies but it is hard to say what we have got to show for it in return."
However, Clegg is insistent that what we are witnessing is a new form of politics and a new reality - coalition politics - which is not going to go away.
Mr Clegg yesterday hinted at a longer-term place in government for his party, declaring that the Lib Dem-Conservative coalition marks "a permanent move that breaks the duopoly of the old parties for good".
I think that's insane. I think the lesson which will be learnt here is that there is no natural coalition between the Tories and the Liberal Democrats and I seriously doubt that any future Liberal Democrat leader will ever repeat the mistake which Clegg has made.

And that's presuming that the Liberal Democrats as a party even survive this coalition.
"In the long run I see only tears for the Lib Dems," said Professor George Jones, of the London School of Economics. "The party will split. Some will be absorbed into Cameron's progressive Cons party. Some will move over to Labour. Others will be in a small independent Lib Dem party. Their only hope is electoral reform, if they want to be more than a party of protest."
No-one can be happy with the position that the Lib-Dems currently occupy other than the Tory leadership.

Their MP's are the current face of the Tory budget, lending credibility to as austere a programme of cuts as I have ever witnessed.

The SDP was formed because four Labour MP's decided the party had gone too far to the left for their tastes. Clegg has now dragged the Lib-Dems to the right. There is only so far you can stretch that piece of elastic before it snaps.

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