The LibDem mess

Posted on

The Observer typifies the LibDem mess: it supported this government and does not know what to do about it.

In their editorial they summarise what the Lib Dems have done today:

Mr Clegg's apparent change of mind was no minor policy tweak to accommodate a coalition partner. It was a decision to throw the Lib Dems behind the biggest economic gamble taken by any government in recent memory — the bet that the private sector will fill the gaps in jobs and services when state provision is pruned back.

As they also say in tat editorial

That is not the choice many Lib Dem voters thought they were endorsing. Mr Clegg is wagering it is the right one none the less, and that by taking it he has won the opportunity to pursue other goals, not least establishing his party as a serious force in government for the 21st century.

As Danny Alexander revealed yesterday the reason for making the choice was fear of  Greek style economic meltdown. As he put it:

When we came into office there was a serious danger that what was going on in the eurozone, where increasingly questions were being asked about how to pay off their debt, those sort of questions could have started to be asked of the UK. But we have taken the country out of the danger zone by acting swiftly.

But as Martin Wolf, Paul Krugman and many others have argued, that was just plain daft: there never was any such risk, and there’s no chance there will be.

The truth is the whole Liberal democrat decision was based on a fantasy threat from the bond markets — one Mervyn King (credited with changing Clegg’s mind) still peddles — as he did to the TUC this week when he said:

Market reaction to rising sovereign debt can turn quickly from benign to malign, as we saw in the euro area earlier this year.

But that was the eurozone — and small states like Greece suffering massive tax gaps and no control of their currency. To compare that in any way — and to believe that this in any way compares with the UK is reckless irresponsibility — and  an untrue excuse for very different action indeed. In that action — as many trade unionists rightly perceived, and as King did not deny, they and all ordinary working people are the innocent victims.

Why make that choice to make innocent people suffer? As William Keegan put it today:

Frankly, I am seriously worried about what the coalition is — in my opinion unnecessarily — risking with the fabric of British society.

Or as Dave Prentis put it:

The Lib Dems have ditched the poor, the elderly and the vulnerable along with their election promises.

Why do that? As Clegg himself reveals today — for wholly right wing dogmatic reasons. As he’s said today:

Clearly there is a chunk of people who, I totally understand, turned to the Liberal Democrats at the height of Blair's authoritarianism and his fascination with [George] Bush and [Dick] Cheney. They said, 'Aha! These Liberal Democrats, they are the leftwing party I want. They are the leftwing conscience of the Labour party that I want.

That was always going to unwind at some point, particularly when Labour went back into opposition and started sloganeering leftwards. Because the vocation of Liberalism is not to be a leftwing ghetto for people disaffected by the Labour party.

That was no ghetto. That was the party of Ashdown, Kennedy and even Campbell. It’s Clegg who changed that. It was the nastiness of the takeover of the LibDems by Manchester School Orange Bookers — promoting free market solutions to all problems — which changed that, and which went (I admit) less noticed than it should have done — although I argued back with some of them before the election.

Clegg can reject this part of his party — some say 40% or more of his party — but they have only one place to go then — and that’s to Labour. For his own right wingers there’s also only one place to go — to the Tories — where no doubt Clegg will end up.

Clegg has killed three party politics — of that I’m sure.

But he’s done something else. he’s given Labour no reason to be in the middle either — because there’s no demand to be there now. Why appease the right when the only viable position is to oppose it — whether Tory or LibDem? Whoever wins the Labour leadership the case for radical alternatives is unassailable.  That, and the destruction of his party is what Clegg will achieve.

Thanks for reading this post.
You can share this post on social media of your choice by clicking these icons:

You can subscribe to this blog's daily email here.

And if you would like to support this blog you can, here: