Picture perfect, I paint a perfect picture of the Liberal Democrats…..and what does it look like? Well with the Liberals one never really does know do they? They are the left in Tory areas, the right in Labour areas. Traditionally the “protest vote”. the Liberals are in government for the first time since Lloyd George’s post-World War I coalition with the Conservatives. So who are they Lib Dems of their 2013 Glasgow conference? Two of my favourite Telegraph columnists, Mayor Boris Johnson and Benedict Brogan weigh in with two very different interpretations.
Mr. Brogan sees the Lib Dems as finally emerging as a responsible, disciplined party of government. He sees Clegg as emerging as the true “heir to Blair”, a man who is a true centrist, and comes with the purple tie (mix of Tory blue and Labour red) to match! He sees a party that is devoting itself to the centre, a party that is willing to make compromises to their beliefs in order to make the best decisions for the country. He also sees Mr. Clegg as the strongest party leader, noting the “drunk uncle” position of Vince Cable and Clegg’s victories on the policies of tuition fees, nuclear power and trident as well as having his party agree to not favouring income tax rises. In essence (although he does not say this directly), he sees the Liberal Democrats as One-Nation Harold MacMillan Conservatives, unlike the infighting and ideological Tories or the hapless union-enslaved Labour. http://blogs.telegraph.co.uk/news/benedictbrogan/100236161/now-its-the-lib-dems-who-talk-of-power-and-the-tories-who-plot/
Boris sees the Liberals as an arrogant, obnoxious, and petty party. He laughs that a party who is currently polling fourth in the polls behind UKIP claims to be the inevitable king maker of the “coming” hung parliament. (Boris thinks Cameron will win a majority). He points out their few policies that have been introduced in this coalition have been a joke or disaster; whether it is AV or an attempt at Lords reform. He further scoffs at their backing of a “mansion tax” which has no real objective economic or revenue objective. But what Boris says makes his “blood boil” is the arrogance and condescending tone of Lib Dem piety. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/nick-clegg/10311123/Condescending-Lord-Clegg-the-invincible-loser-of-British-politics.html
I personally see the Lib Dems in a mostly negative light. Are they ruled by the trade unions like Labour? No. Do they have people in their party that match the utter stupidity of Ed Balls? No they don’t. And in fairness, Clegg is, in my opinion, much more practical and principled than Milliband. But the party really is nothing but a non-offensive, safe, squishy, politically party. I like that they have agreed to Cameron’s government’s policies for the most part. But the “stands” they take are ridiculous and a waste of the country’s time. AV was a stupid and self-indulgent idea, the country works just fine with first past the post and the Lib Dems just wanted to be permanent king makers. Their manifesto was filled with promises that they never intended to keep, whether it was scrapping tuition fees on the left or promising to hold a EU referendum on the right. They made those manifesto promises because they never thought they would seriously be in government. They were a protest vote. Now that they are in a position of semi-power the party is devoid of any “big idea”. Their big idea for 2015 is……free dinner for 5-7 year-olds in school! Groundbreaking! And they will achieve this by giving into Conservative demands for tax breaks for married couples (which I support) which would probably have happened anyway just like most of the Conservatives’ policies. The Lib Dems are truly gutless.
On drive with Iain Dale on LBC 97.3 today, Lynne Featherstone MP said what makes the Lib Dems great is they favour a growing enterprise economy (unlike commie Labour) and a “fairer soceity” (unlike meanie Tories). That quote perfectly encapsulates the Lib Dems for me: false piety and delusion. While a Lib Dem coalition with the Conservatives is preferable to a Labour government I hope after the next election the Lib Dems will be sent back to the opposition benches where they belong.