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Liberal Democrat Betrayal?

May 12, 2010

Liberal Democrat Betrayal?

I voted Liberal Democrat and my stomach churns when I think about it. Because I voted for Liberal Democrats, David Cameron’s Conservatives are in government. Lots of people who voted for Lib Dem last week, are feeling the same, and many of them are shouting because they feel betrayed..

We weren’t betrayed. I am angry that we have a ‘pro-life’ women’s minister-and my vote contributed to it-but this was not a betrayal. The Liberal Democrats are who they always said they were. Did what they always said they were going to do, and if I am honest, the party who will lose the most from this situation is them.

They are a party who share a great deal of common ground with the right and the left. That is the reason for their existence. The Liberal Democrats were never a left wing party, and they never pretended to be.

Their progressive agenda may have struck a chord with the left wing, but the perception of the Lib Dems  as Guardian backed replacement and supplement for the Labour party, is one borne of a popular mythology. A mythology which misunderstands the word liberal: focusing on its cultural manifestation, the opposition to the Iraq war or the authoritarian tendencies of Labour. People either ignored, or were ignorant of the political and economic understanding of liberalism.

I wasn’t duped. I voted for the Liberal Democrats because of their potential to bridge the gap between the left and the right. Because I was alienated from the party whose ideals mirror mine most closely, I voted for a party whose ideas I agreed with, and accepted that there were ideals which I would not share. Nobody else was duped either.

The fact is, the Conservatives won more seats in this election. It is right that the Conservatives were approached first, and it is right that Labour were also approached. It is abundantly clear that Labour had no commitment to a coalition with the Liberal Democrats, and in those circumstances Liberal Democrats did not betray anyone in working with David Cameron

I still feel sick, and angry at myself for voting for them. Not their fault.

I am being a bit of a mardy arse about this Cameron government- but common sense tells you theirs is a pyrrhic victory. Election will come round again soon… in the meantime we have a parliament with a strong opposition for the first time in years.

Maybe Labour will be forced to use this time to ask some questions, a spell in opposition may be just what they need. I can’t remember a time a healthy opposition was needed more. Labour are not entitled to govern and democracy has held them accountable.

That said, in the wise words of David Quantick- If I was called a “Liberal”, I wouldn’t even pretend to be happy about sharing a cabinet with Theresa May. Fucking dogarsed sellout Clegg.

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16 comments

  1. I think people misunderstand what Liberals are; there’s a reason why they have their own group in the European Parliament, as opposed to being joined to the European Socialists. Liberals adhere to their own ideology which is separate; it sometimes matches more closely to the conservatives, other times, the socialists. So we shouldn’t be too surprised.

    As for Labour coming back anytime soon: not unless they learn from recent events. This doesn’t appear to be in progress at the moment.


  2. The Liberal Democrats in this country are (and always have been) self-interested opportunists. This coalition is proof-positive. You only had to look at their performance at council level (see Calderdale for example) to foresee the current outcome of the general election, and the betrayal of a massive proportion of those they suckered in.


    • It was Labour who apparently didn’t want a coalition- not Liberal Democrats.


      • The Labour Party stuck to their manifesto principles, to their values, and did not sell out. The illusion of Lib-Lab coalition was due dilligence, on both sides, since it was clear from early negotiations with Labour and from Nick Clegg’s statements, that the Liberal Democrats favoured a coalition with the Tories.


      • Which is fair enough. It would have been suicide for Labour to agree this pact. The labour party have strengthened their support this election, and I do not doubt for a second Labours reasons for not wanting the pact.


  3. […] This post was mentioned on Twitter by Jaimé Molloy, Stephen, Martin Deane, Lisa, Lisa and others. Lisa said: https://deeplyflawedbuttrying.wordpress.com/2010/05/12/liberal-democrat-betrayal/ Liberal Democrat-Betrayal? […]


  4. I have to say I voted for the Liberal Democrats knowing precisely what they are (the least worst fit with my own ideology). I’m not sure just how interested in politics most voters are, but it has angered me that not only have parties not given any real manifesto pledges to which they can be held accountable (remember those days?) but that they no longer seem to have an interest in explaining the ideological basis upon which those pledges are founded. My own values are firmly of the liberal left and so I can vote Labour, Green or Lib Dem with a clear conscience as the general “personality” of the parties trend over time. If I made a mistake this time it may have been in not giving Labour enough credit for the equality changes they have introduced over their terms of office, but the loss of liberty has been atrocious. Now we have a white, tending to upper class, largely male government that seems unlikely to push the equality agenda while doing wonders for civil liberties. maybe (and at my most optimistic I hope) LibDem will moderate the worst potential excess of libertarianism and privilege that can come out of Toryism, but it seems the swings and the roundabouts both have shit on them.


  5. It’s a small semantic point, but do you really want to use the term “pro-life”? I think it should be eradicated from common parlance, and replaced with “anti-choice” as a more accurate description of that particular group. If these people really were pro-life, they’d be protesting wars and trying to save the lives of people who have already been born. Instead they choose to oppress women by attempting to remove their control over their own bodies.


    • I thought I had used inverted commas. Sorry.


      • No need to apologise! Not having a go at you, just observing that my personal preference is “anti-choice” and my reasons why – say it as it is, and all that 🙂

        It’s kinda like the Jedi starting to call Palpatine “Emperor” just after he’s had all their younglings murdered. It endorses his hold on power he doesn’t legitimately own.

        Oh dear, should I shut up now?!


  6. “I voted for the Liberal Democrats because of their potential to bridge the gap between the left and the right.” – surely they’ve done exactly that. When was the last time we had a government that spanned such a large part of the political spectrum? If ever?


  7. This? This is a good post. I don’t feel betrayed by the coalition, partially because I half expected it, partially because I can see how many policies and concessions our team has dragged out of the Tories.

    Seriously, Cameron was crowing over our “concession” to not push to join the Euro this Parliament; his side really do beleive we’re all Euro-fanatic nutters so they’ve dragged a real concession out of us. It was enver expected to join this Parliament. Ah well.

    The party will, to an extent, lose some support from some over this choice. It’s possible it’ll lose a lot of support. I care not. LAbour lost, completely, and after 12 years of increasingly illiberal measures, at least on political freedoms, they deserved to.

    The Tories aren’t in Govt alone, it’s a genuine coalition, with LDs to temper them and keep them to what they said they were on paper while in Govt. We knew their paper makeover was mostly false. But now we can hold them to what they say they are.

    Hopefully.


    • MatGB, what happens if as you say, the Lib-Dems do lose (a lot of) support? Doesn’t that wholly undermine their current claim to have a mandate to be involved in any kind of coalition government?

      It’s not a coalition, it’s a Bullingdon prank on the people of this country.


      • The LDs received a large sum of votes at the GE, on a very specific policy platform, much of which is included in the coalition agreement.

        One of the points is that there’ll be moves towards an elected House of Lords very soon.

        Labour chose not to make a deal, LDs had no choice but work with Conservatives. Better this Govt than a Tory minority. Of that I’m convinced.

        There will be some who are so viscerally, tribally, anti Tory that because the LDs have talked to them, they’re as bad. So they’ll never vote LD again.

        But there’re going to be others, many others, who’re impressed with the way the govt is handled.

        Regardless, the coalition has the support of the majority of the house and had a substantial majority of votes. Clegg has fulfilled his promise to form a stable Govt and negotiate the most amount of his policies possible.

        LDs will probably, at the next election, lose some voters and gain them from elsewhere. It’s possible the party may even split.

        But if there’s a decent electoral reform, especially if there’s STV for the Lords and a decent preferential system for the Commons, that won’t matter either.

        IF this forces the Greens to stop being a wish fulfilment party and instead become credible, as in Germany, to pick up on former LD and former LAbour voters, that’d be a good thing.

        I’m ammeber of the LDs, and will continue to back the party as the policies I care about are in the deal. But mid to long term, electoral reform sees a shake up in parties, possibly a complete realignment.

        I’d like a Liberal Socialist party to be viable; I’m in contact with enough people, from different parties, to make forming one possible.

        But in FPTP, it’s not viable, it’s not possible.

        This govt is the most legitimate govt we’ve had since 1962. That’s a good thing.


      • THat isn’t quite true Matt. THe coalition agreement was made AFTER I voted, and actually, regardless of a few policies swapped- the policies I supported ARE not on the coalition agreement. I don’t know whether it is because tehy were left with a significantly weaker bargaining position after LAbour talks fell(which was Labours choice- not Libs I agree)- but actually- no, they are not there. And as it is a Tory government, where Libs have been kept out of the jobs heading the great offices- I can’t see them ending up there either.

        As for ‘most legitimate’- a government formed by agreement after an election where the British public roundly said NO to everyone- that is a stretch. What we have is a coalition government in its first few days, where two parties who, as much as they share ideaology- are fundamentally opposed on many things. That’s what makes coalitions fragile- and the idea that this is the ‘most legitimate’ government since whatever year- is ludicrous.


  8. “But there’re going to be others, many others, who’re impressed with the way the govt is handled.”

    Crystal ball gazing. Nothing more.



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