Saturday, 31 May 2014

Liberal Democrats are not in politics to be kingmakers

It comes to something when the best defence of Liberal Democrats in government comes from a newspaper columnist (Mary Dejevsky, quoted here the other day) rather than party HQ.

The current party leadership seems to have fallen back on the comfort cushion offered by Andrew Grice today:

The Lib Dem turmoil eclipsed the real story of the local and European elections: it looks impossible for the Tories or Labour to win an overall majority next year. Without the Clegg crisis, Labour’s poor performance would have become the story. It miscalculated that Ukip would mainly damage the Tories, repeating Tony Blair’s mistake: the working class has “nowhere else to go”. It does now – Ukip. Privately, the Tories and Labour calculate the Lib Dems could hang on to more than 30 of the 57 seats they won in 2010. No one knows the impact of the Ukip wild card but it is clear that Nigel Farage’s party will hurt the Tories and Labour more than it harms the Lib Dems. It’s a safe bet that the Lib Dems will have a lot more seats than Ukip, which will struggle to win more than a handful.

His analysis may well be correct, but we should be seeking to advance, not just sit in the centre with no apparent policies other than providing a minister as the German Free Democrats did. The FDP is now absent from the national parliament and is going to have to rebuild from its local bases.

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