An Englishman of forty years residence in Wales pontificates about politics (slightly off-message), films and trivia. Secretary of Aberavon and Neath Liberal Democrats. Candidate for Neath in the Westminster elections of 1997 & 2017 and the Welsh general election of 2016.
Saturday, 15 May 2010
Were they expecting a coalition with Esther Rantzen?
Liberal Democrat Voice is still full of articles analysing the coalition and people's reactions to it. A lot of Facebook traffic on Liberal Democrat friends' pages is occupied with it. "Any Questions", especially the spluttering, petulant, Roy Hattersley, was obsessed by it this weekend. No doubt tomorrow's special federal conference in Birmingham will generate yet more. The term "navel-gazing" comes to mind. I had resolved not to add to the traffic, until I came across this article by Armando Ianucci, who had come out for the Liberal Democrats before the election. He sums up:
I get frustrated when Liberal Democrat voters shout that they never voted for Cameron. No, they didn't. But they knew there'd most probably be a hung parliament. What on earth were they expecting? A coalition with Esther Rantzen? Some would argue they were doing it expecting a pact with Labour, but alas, democracy doesn't yet provide us with a system where we can vote for one party while influencing how many people vote for another.
Those Tories and Liberal Democrats who complain that their parties have watered down their proposals don't understand the definition of compromise. You cannot compromise while remaining absolute. No number divided by two is itself. And any Labour voter who complains that the Liberal Democrats have let in the Tories is ignoring the fact that, without them, the Conservatives would have a powerful majority. Seventy per cent of something you don't like is still awful, but it's better than 100 per cent.
Now we really must move forward. There is unfinished UK business, like stopping the Trident replacement, restoring the Post Office network and securing genuinely proportional voting for the Commons. (It has passed many commentators by that we have achieved a promise of PR for the other place.) The Conservatives must be made to realise that they cannot go on playing silly buggers in Europe, as a correspondent so eloquently put it.
There is a Welsh general election next year, when Labour's mismanagement of the health service and Plaid's reneging on its manifesto promises will come under scrutiny.
For all this we need a strong and distinct continuing Liberal Democrat party.