Monday, October 06, 2014

The Liberal Democrats keep buggering on

I was asked to write a short piece for the issue of The House Magazine available at the Liberal Democrat Conference.

Winston Churchill had a watchword during the war: KBO. Given the failure of the coup against Nick Clegg and his determination the Coalition will last until the last possible moment, the only strategy open to the Liberal Democrats is to Keep Buggering On.

Though Nick fought a favourite's campaign when he was elected as leader and avoided discussing policy, many hoped his accession would see the party moving away from pavement politics – the exploitation of local problems, often without much particularly Liberal about it.

The irony is that this style of politics is now the party’s only hope of returning a respectable number of MPs at the next election. And it may work, getting more Lib Dems elected than commentators expect, if fewer than members hope.

In large part the Liberal Democrats’ difficulties in government were inevitable, even if we were too naïve to see it. We Lib Dems have always believed that if only we could get into government then everyone would love us, we would achieve proportional representation and stay there for ever.

But some of the party’s woes are self-inflicted. The leader’s inner circle had no idea how to win the referendum on the Alternative Vote. And, whether the fault was MPs breaking their pledge or making it in the first place, the debacle over tuition fees still makes us cringe.
Featured on Liberal Democrat Voice
After the general election our most urgent task will be to rebuild the Lib Dems’ local government base. Until then, KBO.


Anonymous said...

You are essentially right - it is the only hope the party has. I remember 1989 and the last time the Lib Dems were at 6% in the polls.

BUT there are differences -

(1) in 1989 the party has a widely respected leader with distinctively liberal policies. Now it has a leader who is a figure of ridicule and an unpopular record (bedroom tax, student fees, millionaires tax cut...)

(2) much of the local government base has already gone (see Liverpool, Manchester or almost any industrial city) and activist have either dropped out or joined Labour.

helenpcourtevidenceprivate said...

KBO? Know when you're Busted Old mate.