It’s like Apocalypse Now without the helicopters. It’s like a flan deflating in a cupboard.
It would appear that the Lib Dems are no more. They are an ex party, they are pining for the fjords and have joined the choir invisible. Oh, there will be some Nokias thrown for a bit but to use a technical, political phrase that I hope, Dear reader, isn’t too abstruse for you they are fucked.
Well, it’s almost Shakespearian isn’t it? Not that long ago Nick Clegg was lauded to the skies – the straight-talking nice guy aided by his old and sage advisor St Vincent of the Cable. And herein lies the rub. I consider myself a liberal (note the small “l”) but I have always been sceptical (or is that septical?) about the true liberalism of the Lib Dems. If I may take a leaf out of a book by Marks (Paul) I’ve said it before and I shall say it again… Where to start? There was a tipping point for me between suspecting the Lib Dems were a party without substance, without any core philosophy and a disgrace to the very word “liberal” – I mean a hundred odd years go you might have voted for Disraeli rather than Gladstone but you at least would have understood Gladstone as a man of integrity with principles underlying his policies – principles and policies you might not agree with but you could disagree with them honestly. The Lib Dems formed from a bizarre marriage of the old Liberal party and David Owen’s ego-wank that was the SDP*. Let me explain…
Start at the beginning Nick! I grew up in I guess the most average place in Britain. That is not a criticism. It’s just saying the neighbours didn’t have Mercedes out front and neither were they smoking crack. Our council ward was strongly Lib Dem. I knew the councillors (they knew my mum) and they were very locally focussed. Come election time their leaflets would actually connect with me. They’d say things like, “This staggered junction ought to be replaced with a roundabout”. The Tories (who frankly weren’t trying – this was Gateshead) and Labour would mouth vague platitudes. Then I lived in inner cities and the Lib Dems would also be locally focussed. A place I lived in Manchester had a Lib Dem councillor, a Mr Ali who only got in (he spoke no English) in a traditionally Labour ward because he and his party opposed the invasion of Irag. Do I need to add this place was predominately Muslim? Fair enough but back in the leafy lanes what were the Lib Dems saying? They weren’t plugging that one. They were talking about hanging baskets on the shopping parade.
This is where I hit a problem. It is right that local representatives support causes that matter to their electorate but it is also wrong to take that to the extreme of being a party that at the national level has no philosophy other than to selectively say whatever is needed wherever. If your philosophy is to be all things to all people then you are an empty vessel. Obviously different areas have different issues but that doesn’t mean, as the Lib Dems have done, you adopt a different philosophical approach – essentially what I’m saying is you chose tactics accordingly but strategy is general. But they did because they have no core philosophy. They don’t do “the vision thing”. Is there anything wrong with politicians being pragmatists? No, not when it comes to replacing a lethal junction with a roundabout. Yes when it means having a philosophical fabric so malleable you could make the same dress clothe Katie Price or Katie Moss. If anything it calls into question the point of political parties at all – are they just vehicles for meddlesome ratbags? I mean do you care what make your taxi is if it gets you to the church on time? It certainly calls the Lib Dems to account.
But I mentioned the Markist doctrine of keeping on saying it until hits home. The current deputy leader of the Lib Dems is the reprehensible Simon Hughes. Well he looks an obnoxious cunt. He looks increasingly like he is Tony Benn’s understudy. Watch video of him because it’s the mannerisms more than anything. Hughes won his seat in ’83 against Peter Tatchell the noted gay rights campaigner. Hughes ran a blatantly homophobic campaign. Years later it turns out Hughes is bisexual and has been since a teenager**. Hughes defeated Tatchell by running a campaign in Lambeth with the slogan, “Vote Hughes – the straight choice”.
That was the tipping point from me suspecting to having proof. It’s that point when Poirot calls everyone into the drawing-room. It isn’t the homophobia as much the hypocrisy. No, it’s worse even than that. It is the moral vacuum of it.
Yesterday Nick Clegg and his party paid the price of buying Gordon Brown’s moral compass at a car-boot sale and this is a good thing. Rightly we are suss of “conviction politicians”*** but conviction is not the same as principle and the Lib Dems have no principles. They will say anything to win and yesterday that revolving door of morality hit them on the arse on the way out. They have been totally sold down the river by Nick Clegg’s coalition which increasingly looks like he thought power**** mattered at all costs. What use is power if to buy it you have to sell all you believe? None to me and none to you but if you are Nick Clegg steeped in the tradition of Lib Dem whateverism you don’t believe a goddamn thing in the first place.
And today is a fine day for British politics. Because people have seen the desperate little man utterly destroyed by Dave Cameron. They have seen Clegg’s spectacular U-turn on university tuition fees when he thought he could get his feet under the cabinet table. They have voted resoundingly against the one thing he had to offer his party – AV. And that wasn’t even the PR***** they wanted.
What is remarkable is the why? Clegg is politically a half-wit. The only policies I recall the Lib Dems having at the last General Erection****** were raising the tax-allowance (at the time I recall the Tories looking like “Oh shit! We should have thought of that one!”), the abolition of university fees in England and some vague idea about the voting system. Well the Tories liked the tax idea anyway, university fees are being tripled and the one thing he got is a referendum (the first in this country since 1975) which he lost and basically put the question off the agenda for a generation. The end of term report isn’t looking good Nicky. In the haggling that made the coalition one of his three big planks was a no brainer (the tax threshold). His other bargaining chips were AV and fees. Nick Clegg pissed his career up the wall on AV which he was always going to lose not least because his U-turn on fees alienated his base (a lot of students used to vote Lib Dem – and your seat is in a major university town you utter pillock!). Dave Cameron absolutely tied him over the gun-carriage and he, Osborne and Willets proceeded tp bugger Clegg senseless. And this only happened Nick because you had no principles to begin with. The only one you stood by (as I said the tax thing was a good idea so it wasn’t a point for negotiation anyway) was something that was rightly seen as a cynical attempt to placate your party by winning them more seats. It is that simple Clegg. You portrayed yourself as an honest man until you heard the dog whistle and then you sold yourself for a mess of pottage. And you did that because you are a Lib Dem and that means you are a principle-free zone. You are someone who will do anything which is the definition of a Lib Dem. Your deputy undoubtedly voted for things like the equalisation of the age of consent and gay civil partnerships. Your deputy who was only in parliament because he ran a rampantly homophobic smear campaign against his opponent despite being a fan of cock and bum fun himself. It is indicative of your complete lack of political nous, your unbelievable arrogance and the political culture that you are of. It has no moral or philosophical base. Ever since they have existed the Lib Dems have been the person of all seasons of British politics and you Clegg over-reached yourself in such a naked desperation for power at any cost that you will not survive. I am sure – I know you Clegg – if Dave had asked as part of the deal if Boris could take Miriam up the Gary you’d have texted her to say, “Add Vaseline to the shopping list luv x”.
That’s what I mean about Shakespearean. All for a grace and favour gaff and an armoured Jag. I bet the next cabinet meeting is fun. Anyway, I’m just glad people are finally seeing through you and the party that spawned you.
My fundamental point here is I simply can’t trust politicians with no principles. I would much rather chew the political fat with an old skool Labourite or Tory than someone who makes the Chinese acrobat in Ocean’s Eleven look to have a spine. .
*An unbelievably vain man. I’ve slept at his house. Long story but it involved a South African house-keeper.
**I guess he has to be. You know the Woody Allen joke about it doubling your chances on a Friday night? I am pondering here now from the point of view of pure math what twice zero is. You can get into some horrendous tangles if you attempt to equate different zeroes.
***Such as Lord Archer. Sorry had to.
****The thrown vacated by Lord Prescott of Hull and Pies.
*****In medical parlance “PR” is an abbreviation for “Per Rectum”. The idea truly is the enema of the people.
******Something caused by a massive stimulus package. Not exactly but it’s funny.