Tuesday, May 12, 2015

"The general election was bloody awful for the Liberal Democrats"

My First Person column printed in today's Leicester Mercury.

Brace yourselves - the Tories are off the leash

The general election was bloody awful for the Liberal Democrats.

I know politicos are meant to say things like “I’m glad you asked me that” and  “Let me answer that question directly” and “I think the real question is…”, but there are times even a politico has to tell the truth.

For someone like me, who has been a member of the Liberal Party and then the Liberal Democrats for all his adult life, Thursday night was heartbreaking.

And you don’t have to be a paid-up Lib Dem to be sad to see the careers of good men like Vince Cable, Charles Kennedy and Simon Hughes cut off at the knees.

If it had been possible to vote for the Coalition to continue, I suspect the voters would have happily done so. But it wasn’t possible and the result was a wholesale slaughter of Lib Dem MPs

So where do the Liberal Democrats go from here?

If we have a future then it is as a radical, campaigning party. The days of being centrist are over for a while.

The good news for us, though not for the country, is that the Conservative government will no longer be curbed by the Lib Dems. All the nasty things they wanted to do through the five years of the coalition will now be brought forward as parliamentary bills.

Within hours of the election plans to examine cutting a scheme that helps disabled people into work were put forward. Lib Dems exist to campaign against things like that, as well as for human rights and European cooperation.

And there will be plenty more nasty measures. For five years David Cameron had to keep reasonable 
Liberal Democrats happy to get things through parliament.

Now, with his narrow majority, he is dependent on the fruitcake wing of the Conservative Party. It’s the Bones and Hollobones and Reeses-Mogg who hold the balance of power. Good luck with that, Dave.

It’s a long, long way back, but there is already a sign of hope for the Lib Dems. Between the close of polls and Monday evening almost 7000 new members joined them. Some feel sorry for Nick Clegg, some are glad he has gone, but all believe the party has a future.

And it would be wrong to end without a word about Oadby and Wigston which, amid all the carnage, stayed firmly Liberal Democrat.

When we crawl out of the bunkers after the nuclear holocaust, we shall find hyperintelligent ants have taken over the world and that Oadby and Wigston Lib Dems still running the council.

Jonathan Calder blogs at LiberalEngland.

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