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The Liberal Democrats

Written By: - Date published: 11:58 am, November 10th, 2019 - 13 comments
Categories: Austerity, Brexit, liberalism, Politics, uk politics - Tags: , , , ,

 

Who are the Liberal Democrats?

The Liberal Democrats were Founded in 1981. They were a Coalition of the Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party. The Liberal Party was the direct descendant of the 18th-century Whigs and prior to the creation of the Labour Party were the main rival to the Conservatives in the House of Commons. The Social Democratic Party were a slightly less pathetic version of Change UK formed by breakaway Labour MPs in the early 1980s. These two parties formally merged in 1988.

The Lib Dems have at times made a positive contribution. When Tony Blair’s New Labour Government were pushing to invade Iraq in 2003, the Lib Dems were strong opponents of this. As someone who was active in opposing the Iraqi invasion, this certainly earned them some respect in my eyes.

In 2010 the Lib Dems held the balance of power after the General Election. Naively before the election, then party leader Nick Clegg gave away his leverage by saying the Lib Dems would likely go with whichever party got the most votes. Given at this point the Conservatives were only polling a few points ahead of Labour this was a clumsy move. Probably as a result of this blunder, the Lib Dems went from polling around 30% (neck and neck with Labour and Conservatives) to getting just 22% of the vote on election night.

For the next 5 years the Lib Dems were in coalition with the Conservatives. These were the years where austerity cuts hit hard. Funding to local government services were slashed, NHS funding was frozen, Student tuition fees sky-rocked, police numbers were cut and the mantra of doing more with less became common in Whitehall.

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In 2015 election the Lib Dems were punished. In 2017 the Lib Dems vote increased, however due to the First Past the Post electoral system they did not increase their number of seats in the Commons.

But now its 2019. UK politics is a mess. The Lib Dems have a new leader and this could be their year. Except its already gone to their heads, and they are making poor decisions.

My previous post outlined the parties Brexit positions. The Lib Dems have since 2016 been advocating for a second referendum. Now that most opposition parties in parliament, including Labour, have adopted this as their policy the Lib Dems want to go further. They now are saying if they win a majority in parliament they will withdraw Article 50 and just stop Brexit in its tracks. Plenty of people don’t like the Brexit result. and there are plenty who’d like to see and end to Brexit and the chaos it is creating. But its a big call to say you are going to ignore a democratic decision by the people. And an arrogant one. Even many of the most ardent Remainers will find this position to be a bridge too far. The Lib Dems could be saying, we campaigned for a second referendum from the outset, and now other opposition parties are copying us. Instead, the Lib Dems are trying to differentiate themselves, a position that could badly backfire on them.

Recently, the Labour opposition moved an amendment in Parliament seeking to prevent the Privatisation of the NHS in any post Brexit trade deals with the US. The Lib Dems decided it best to abstain on this motion, rather than being seen to support a Labour Party amendment. Yes as a party you want to show you are different to Labour and aren’t aligned to Jeremy Corbyn. But what signal does abstaining on an issue like this send? Especially after supporting 5 years of austerity cuts last time you were in government.

The Lib Dems are essentially a party that is economically on the centre right and socially progressive. They maybe aren’t too fussed if the NHS gets privatised as this is consistent with liberalism and their track record in power. The issue is that the Lib Dems present themselves as moderate economic centrists. Their history has been to back austerity and free market economics. In effect they are the pro Europe Tories. Conservative Party supporters who are pro the  EU may find they have a natural home in the Lib Dems, in much the same way as Blairite politicians from Labour such as Chuka Umunna have. But winning these people over will only win the party so much support. They want more.

The Lib Dems have formed a pro Remain Electoral pact with the Greens and Plaid Cymru. The Lib Dems will likely be the main winners in such a pact. More concerning is the way the Lib Dems are trying to encourage voters to be tactical. Under a First Past the Post electoral system vote spitting is a challenge, and there are times when it is wise to be strategic. But this does not excuse dishonestly and deceit.

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The above images shows a leaflet distributed my the Lib Dems in York Outer claiming there is a two horse race between their party and the Conservatives. The aim is to encourage Labour voters to tactically vote Lib Dem. Below this are the 2017 voting figures, showing in fact the two horse race is between Labour and Conservative with the Lib Dems coming a distant 3rd place. Similar leaflets have been put out by the Lib Dems in Labour held constituencies where they falsely claim that they and not the Conservatives are the main challenger.

The Lib Dems represent a section of the British voting public. On the issue of Brexit they have consistently pushed the remain cause, and there will be voters who support them for this. But integrity is important in politics. Trust in politics is already low. Being deliberately misleading, anti democratic and arrogant will not impress voters. The Lib Dems might really want to rethink how they are now approaching the upcoming election.

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13 comments on “The Liberal Democrats ”

  1. Dukeofurl 1

    What about the Lib Dems absurd claim that when they win and cancel Brexit that means there is a £50 billion "bonus" to spend.

    After all the lies during the referendum about economic chaos or the savings for £350 mill per week for the NHS.

    So 'Remain' will now save the UK money ?

    The 'deal' divorce bill is almost all money that the UK would have paid anyway during the EU 5 yr budget cycle. The 'no deal' bill was tiny, for small pension obligations.

  2. Ironic how the article which attempts to smear the SDP as "a slightly less pathetic version of Change UK formed by breakaway Labour MPs in the early 1980s" ends with a link to momentum, being the spawn of militant, which made the Labour party unelectable for a generation.

  3. Exkiwiforces 3

    I lost all faith in the Lib Dems after that muppet Clegg trash any of reform of the UK electoral system and beside the fact they are Pro EU.

    The best leader they ever was old Lord Paddy Ashdown and even he admits he should’ve done more to push for UK electoral reform when he the chance, from reading his autobiography.

    On a different note, I was reading an article this weekends Australian, that a number of UK Labour MP’s from the Midlands are urging punters to vote for the Tories IOT for Brexit to go ahead and a protest vote at old Jerry Corbyn. This really doesn’t surprise me at all from what I’ve hearing as a lot of those voters are sick and tried of UK Labour taking them for granted especially during Blair the Bullshit artist time in Government.

  4. Sanctuary 4

    I've watched Swinson being interviewed a few times now, and all I can say is she is the sort of politician only Alistair Campbell would think anyone could, would or should vote for.

    Effectively, the Lib-Dems are now the exclusive champions of elite establishment politics and ultra centrism, and all the chancers, egotists and entitled yesterdays men who believe in that shit have flocked flock to the lib-Dem banner. They are now using the party as their chosen vehicle in their to struggle to regain relevance, turn back the clock too Blair's cool Britannia and to rage against the dying of the light of all their relevance that the radicalism of Labour and the dollar store fascism of the Tory party has condemned them to.

    • Gosman 4.1

      The radicalism of Corbyn doesn't seem to resonate much with the British electorate at this point in time. In which case what would you prefer – Tory populism or Lib-Dem centralism.

      • Hanswurst 4.1.1

        The radicalism of Corbyn doesn't seem to resonate much with the British electorate at this point in time.

        Whether that's true or not, the Lib Dems' nothing in particular except remain in the EU and smile benignly (while in all probability propping up a Tory government) appeals even less.

  5. Gosman 5

    What the result was in 2017 matters much less given the monumental change the last 2 years have had on British politics. The Lib-Dems are well within their rights to highlight recent poll results rather than actual results from 2017. They are also well within their right to adervtise themselves as being the most pro-Remain party and to try and suck up all the Remain vote.

  6. mosa 6

    A vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for the stuffed scarecrow and his colleague's and their agenda after Brexit is complete.

    https://www.thecanary.co/trending/2019/11/04/the-last-six-days-show-the-british-people-exactly-why-they-shouldnt-trust-the-lib-dem

  7. quasimodo 9

    Nine Russian business people who gave money to the Conservative Party are named in a secret intelligence report on the threats posed to UK democracy which was suppressed last week by Downing Street.

    https://www.thetimes.co.uk/edition/news/russian-tory-donors-named-in-secret-report-z98nqpkx0

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