A comment on a social network site set me thinking. My response threatened, as so often, to turn into an essay so I hurriedly edited it down to a short answer and popped over here to inflict the long answer on my long-suffering readership. Ok, this is only my third post so you’re not literally ‘long-suffering’ (unless you know me personally) but stick around kids... ;-) Here goes:
“...I do not believe this govt can last much longer. They do not have a mandate to do all they are doing. At some point surely the majority of the Lib Dems will have to break away?...”
Oh I do most sincerely hope so! But, from what I see, the LibDems (the Parliamentary bit of the Party) seem to have wedged into their heads the idea that they DO have a mandate because "the country wanted more consensus politics" and that a coalition is exactly what we wanted because we didn't give either main party a clear majority. I don’t remember having the option to vote for “a coalition”, let alone define which parties would form one.
I must have missed the mass public meetings where we-the-voters all got together and worked out how to vote tactically across, what, 650 plus constituencies to ensure that there was no clear majority in the House of Commons. It could have been a secret meeting to which I was not invited :-( So, in spite of the chunterings* of pundits, when I placed my vote it was for the person and party wanted and I fondly hoped that most of the rest of the UK would vote the way I did. (Not for the same person, of course; that way lies dictatorship...)
They don’t seem to have given any thought to the fact that perhaps there was an even more secret meeting of the electorate at which it was decided that a minority Conservative Government was just the ticket. Properly strong opposition leading to consensus, perhaps? Thus by entering into a coalition they’ve actually upset everyone.
I think that what a lot of us meant by ‘consensus politics’ was more along the lines of having almost everything decided by free votes rather than under one, two or three line whips. Maybe, say, spending longer debating issues in order to come to a greater understanding and consensus. It would slow down the pace of legislative change but that would not necessarily be a bad thing. Add in ‘all Public Consultations to be widely and fully publicised and then opened for an absolute minimum of thirteen weeks’ so that the we-the-public felt that we were a part of the debate more often than once in a blue moon! Look them up, blue moons, they’re more frequent than you might think... Certainly more frequent than general elections.
Some LibDems probably still fondly imagine that they're preventing, or can prevent, “the worst excesses” of “pure Tory policies”. Most must surely know that if they cause a fresh General Election they'll (a) lose their seats or (b) retain them but lose the trust of the Conservatives and have to work pretty damned hard to regain much trust from Labour.
So, it’s too early to bail out yet. ‘Have to give things a fair chance’. ‘It’s early days yet’. ‘We’re working hard to push our agenda through’. Et cetera. That’ll probably prevail for another fifteen months. Then they can start having ‘some cause for concern’ about ‘the direction our coalition partners are moving in’ before changing it to ‘stance . . . are taking’ later in that year. Before we know it, there’ll be less than two years before the Fixed Term is up and moving to an early election would involve votes of no confidence and untold/unspoken threats to the ‘green shoots of economic recovery’ so better to ‘see it through’ and hope.
Of course, two and a half years from now there might just really be some green shoots for some sectors of the economy and/or the population. By three-and-a-half years into this Parliament an economic boom/bubble might have got underway by some miracle or sleight of hand - again, for some business sectors and selected parts of the population. And they’ll be on such a high that they wo’n’t notice the people who got left behind and will happily vote the Conservatives back in as long as the election happens before the bubble bursts. (Loadsamoney, anyone?)
The LibDems? Ah, well. They were very much the junior partners in the coalition, weren’t they? No real major policies. Bit of tinkering around the edges. Some of it was quite good. Some of them are all right, the ones who didn’t defect. Or implode. Or get erased when the boundaries were redrawn. Or get kicked ‘upstairs’**.
If, though, we’re still in recession/stagflation/depression then, barring a sea-change/coup in the LibDem Party as a whole, they’ve probably had it anyway.
So, unless Cameron, Osborne et al., Inc., steam-roll something though that shocks the Parliamentary Liberal Democrats to their very cores (and I find it hard to imagine quite what that might be) I’m sorry to say that I think we’re stuck for the next four-and-a-quarter years. Not what I’d wish for. Not what I voted for. But my preferred candidate came second. And my party came second but ended up third... Hope they’re ready for next time!
* * * * * * * *
* this can’t be the correct word but it’s the one my brain instructed my fingers to type and I can’t think for the life of me what word it was I was hoping for***...
** or wherever you get kicked ‘up’ to when you’d decided that it was a good idea to rush things through so that a fully elected second chamber would take the place of the House of Lords at the 2015 election...
*** I am ‘enjoying’ some interesting side-effects from a medication which has recently been released into the wild (been approved for a new use). Combined with existing meds it’s, um, very interesting and sometimes highly amusing. To me. Some of the effects are on very short-term memory and co-ordination, such that what I intend is often not what comes out. ‘Neckst’ for ‘next’ is a particular favourite. Proof-reading and correcting this has taken a number of attempts interspersed with randomly falling (‘fawlign’!) asleep - or getting totally distracted - on top of my usual needing to rest, move around, re-groddle my joints etc., But, yay, I finished it!