Thursday, May 05, 2011
On Beating And Ill-Using
Last May, before the formation of the current government, one of the reasons I hopefully gave for thinking that a Labour and Lib Dem dominated coalition was possible was that the Lib Dems could not get voting reform without the support of the Labour party. I suppose that only matters if you think they could have got the support of the Labour party, and of course the parliamentary mathematics made such a coalition so unwieldy and beholden to nationalists as to be extremely unlikely even if the subsequently increasingly obvious personal distaste could be set aside. Still, a coalition with the Tories was not the only other option open to the Lib Dems, nor was the wholehearted public embrace of an ideologically driven cuts agenda by the party leadership once in coalition necessary. For a group of people able to lead a political party to 22.1% of the vote in a general election, they show a striking inability to work out the basic conditions for the achievement of what must be their single most important political goal. Without a reform to the voting system, this is as good as it is ever going to get for the Lib Dems, and this is already destroying them. Yet they have taken a series of decisions which have made it more or less impossible for them to get the one thing that would turn them from a party condemned to carping from the sidelines or the junior and abused coalition partner into a potential party of government. The Alliance had thought about it in 1982; why hadn't Nick Clegg?