Apologies to all Liberal supporters past and present but I come to bury the party, not to praise it.
Support for the party has shrunk to just 9% – partly as a result of jumping into bed with the Tories and partly because some of their policies are a bit potty.
Proposing a ban on The Sun because of Page 3, and Lynne Featherstone’s sexist proclamation that women deserve more chances than men (because men make ‘terrible decisions’), are moves that bewilder voters. All the while Vince Cable and Chris Huhne risk the structural integrity of the coalition’s house of cards with their assertions of independence.
We have often seen the party denounced as hair-brained, sandal-wearing, harmless left-leaning activists who can be left to their own devices. But after the events of the past year the Lib Dems are a far more dangerous prospect than we may have once envisaged – with delusions of power and grandeur.
The poodle has finally learned to bark and they are keen to let everyone know. After months of quiet discussions, debate and decision, they have turned up the volume in a transparent bid to hold on to support and assert a separate identity.
As is often the case, the bitching has broken out away from their desks and the influence of Tory colleagues. It seems many leading Liberals think point-scoring and rhetoric is the way to regain some element of public affection. But are they more interested in what’s good for the Lib Dems or for Great Britain? No wonder Shirley Williams hit out so publicly at Huhne, who seems to fancy himself as Clegg’s successor.
Of course, we know the coalition is not an ideological match made in heaven yet it is a situation that these MPs all agreed to make the best of. Yet rather than face up to the responsibility, the Liberals are behaving like children with their Tea Party jibes on differences of opinions.
This desperate one-upmanship against the cold-hearted Tories – aimed to prove that they aren’t really chummy with the toffs – is just pathetic. It’s no surprise that the Liberals want the voting age reduced to 16 – their MPs are behaving that age!
I admit the Tories aren’t whiter than white; plenty of activists and MPs know this communion will only last a little while and have made their own boasts, covering their own backsides for when things crumble. But both sides need to put a sock in it for the benefit of the whole. Outbursts at the conference only dilute the Liberal Democrats’ viability. Who could seriously want a party whose members use their public window of opportunity to slag off fellow members of government?
Sadly, the Lib Dems have shown themselves to be devoid of integrity and unwilling to work together for national unity. Despite their mention of green taxes and keeping us close to Europe they have reverted to tired, often-hypocritical bashing of the rich. One rash remark that stands out is Huhne’s comment that most Tories are “descendants of those who sent children up chimneys". Perhaps if he met some Tory activists then he would realise many share working backgrounds similar to those of Maggie T. It’s not champagne, Ascot and mansions in Chelsea for many of us!
And 'slavering over tax cuts for the rich’? No, we actually want a fairer and more equal system.
Maybe I am being too harsh on the hapless Liberals. But I despise people throwing in the towel without exhausting all options. They protest about the Tories but if it wasn’t for the coalition they wouldn’t have had a voice.
They are in a position where they can make a difference and implement their big ideas for the first time. But bitching publicly about how hard-done-by they all are just turns off voters and makes a mockery of their bid to govern.