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Lib Dem Apocalypse!

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.

Why?

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.

13 Comments

  1. John Galt says:

    As it says in the good book – Matthew 16:26 “What does it profit a man to gain the whole world if he looses his soul?”.

    Clegg took the Faustian bargain with both hands when it was offered and what he recieved in exchange was a referendum on AV. Didn’t think that one through did you Cleggy boy?

    I agree that the LibDems are good a on the ground (usually), which is why they have good representation at the local and county level (previously). Where they fail is that the “Liberal Democrats” have no founding vision, no universal characteristic that defines them. Never had, never will.

    Without vision there can be no purpose and without purpose there is no direction. You just end up flapping in the wind. The LibDems are opportunists, nothing more, however they have been caught out.

    They’ve lost the AV referendum and they have no Plan B.

    Firing Cleggy boy might make the party feel better, but it won’t solve the fundamental problem. It won’t give the LibDems a purpose.

    Good Riddance to Bad Rubbish.

  2. NickM says:

    John,
    I worried that folk might misunderstand the spirit of my (rather long) post. Thank you!

  3. alison says:

    “a flan deflating in a cupboard”

    Fuck yeah!

  4. Joh says:

    What would you have done if you were in his position after GE2010?

  5. Sam Duncan says:

    Can’t add anything to that, except for the tartan perspective. For all the SNP’s crowing – the first party ever to win a majority in the Gasworks under a voting system explicitly designed to deny them one, quite possibly the most emphatic victory in British electoral history – and the unionist parties’ bewilderment, the result up here is nothing other than the northern aspect of the same phenomenon.

    Looking at the popular vote (I’m always suspicious of share percentages; they can go up even when fewer people vote for you), the Nats gained a fair chunk over 2007, certainly, but the Labour vote was actually pretty steady at (roughly) 600,000. The Tory vote was down again, but not by much. However the LDs just vanished, as they did everywhere else in Britain. “Solid” Labour seats in the Central Belt went Nat not because lifelong Labour voters suddenly saw the lemon-yellow SNP light, but because the anti-Labour vote was no longer split between two, on the face of it, utterly different parties… even though, in most cases, the LibDems were so far behind as to be thought irrelevant.

    And why? Exactly what you say: they were found out, and the Social Democrats simply couldn’t stomach “their” party leader chumming it up with Cameron (who I still maintain is more the lefty of the two). I’ve been saying for years, even back when the smartarses were confidently predicting that straight Labour-LibDem fights were The Future of British Politics and the Tories were, like, so over, that once they had a sniff of success they’d collapse into an acrimonious barney over what they actually stood for. The (Social and) Liberal Democrats have been on borrowed time since day one. It just ran out.

    (I’m considering a post about how my constituency – Glasgow Kelvin – posted what looks like turning out to be the most emphatic “Yes” vote in the country, but I imagine it’ll touch on this as well.)

  6. Henry Crun says:

    Hi Nick,

    Long time reader, seldom a commenter (work firewall blocks access so have to rely on RSS)

    In answer to your question: “are they just vehicles for meddlesome ratbags?”

    The answer is Yes. Having met a few politicians of both local and national stripe, I can safely say that these are people who cannot leave well alone. They constantly have to justify their own sense of self importance by constantly wanting to change things even when said things are ticking along quite nicely.

    The local Labour councillors (and I’m only a drive across the Cat & Fiddle from you) are the sorts of people who smelled of bicuits and whose school reports were unremarkable. Life’s plodders, no ambition and an airy fairy ideal of wanting to make the world a better place for everyone. But life being ever so unfair ending up on the dole because it was that awful mrs Thatcher’s fault, lost generation blah blah blah. One female councillor is a failed hippy, another is a meddlesome troll and the rest are just useless streaks of piss who turn up a t council meetings for the tea and jammy dodgers. The Conservatives are no better than a bunch of retired, failed businessmen with fuck all to do in their dotage.

    The local MP is an improvement on the last one in that he is reasonably dynamic (ran the family business before entering politics). However, my point is that politics does not attract pragmatists – it attracts the vain, the lazy, and those who wish to ride the coat-tails of others. I’ve often been asked why I don’t stand as an independent councillor – but I fear that if I did I would be labelled a trouble causer. If only for the reason that I have a low bullshit tolerance threshhold and the council meeting protocols would just get right up my nose.

    But back to your point on Clegg (and I’m certainly no Lib dem sympathiser) – his position in the Coalition was already doomed from the off. Damned if he did and damned if he didn’t. Ashdown let the cat out of the bag on Thursday on QT when he said that Brown rejected the coalition idea and that Labour preferred to be in opposition. I think what a lot of Lib Dem supporters cannot stomach is the reality of actually being in government and the realisation that much of their dogma just isn’t practical and it’s all Nick’s fault.

  7. NickM says:

    “One female councillor is a failed hippy, another is a meddlesome troll and the rest are just useless streaks of piss who turn up a t council meetings for the tea and jammy dodgers. The Conservatives are no better than a bunch of retired, failed businessmen with fuck all to do in their dotage.”

    That made me laugh! How precisely do you fail at being a hippy?

    I think it is clear since way before the election Labour wanted opposition. The thinking was they’d made a hell of a mess and things will only get worse (how ironic that sounds) so give the Tories a go and back in next time. Kind of like ’79/’83 without the Falklands or Foot. I agree with what you say.

    But I still think Clegg dropped a bollock for himself on tuition fees. That was the one manifesto pledge that I knew would cause the Lib Dem vote to go through the floor if he didn’t wrangle a deal with Dave on it and I think he could have done. I reckon Dave would have lived with the compromise of keeping fees at 3 grand. Tell ya what he could have sacrificed Chris Huhne as Minister of Windmills. Clever, sneaky that, win-win because Huhne stood against Clegg didn’t he? I am not making a policy judgement here but I am pointing out how foolish Clegg was. I find it shocking that if I’d been leader I would have played a smarter hand.

    Well the job may become available very soon and I shall start to consider it when Hell reaches the thermodynamic triple point.

    Henry, BTW go for it! Our own Paul Marks is a councillor and he’s on the side of the angels. It can happen. Not often… But…

  8. JuliaM says:

    LibDems – least threatening zombies ever

  9. stedmancinques says:

    Absolutely spot on, Nick.

    Down here, in my neck of the woods, we had the benefit of Ann Widdecombe as our MP for dunnohowmany years.

    Dear Ann actually increased her majority in 1997 totally against the national trend that swept Bliar to power; And kept on increasing it; Why?
    Doesn’t take much brain to work out; because love her or loathe her, you always knew exactly what she stood for and on; you knew that her convictions weren’t some pretence of telling the electorate what you thought they probably wanted to hear.

    Besides which she was a fucking good constituency MP; I know personally three cases where she rammed bureaucratic injustices up local bigwigs arses so hard it made their eyes water.

    What I’d like to know is, why isn’t she in the Lords?

    As for the Salmon and the SNP, once he gets going I’ve got more than a vague suspicion that West Lothian is going to be firmly back on the agenda; the Scots can pursue what social policies they like, but why should they be able to do so solely on the back of a massive English subsidy?

    Tuition Fees are an excellent case in point; brought in by a Labour government using its Scottish majority at Westminster to inflict the whole scheme and cost on to England, the majority of whose MP’s voted against the idea. The Scottish MP’s being quite happy to vote for it knowing that it wouldn’t affect any of their constituents, and also knowing that they had no democratic accountability whatever to the poor sods who were going to suffer by it.

    And, please, let’s not here any more about ‘It’s Scotland’s Oil’ There has been only one year (1998, I think) where oil revenues have exceeded the fucking Barnett Formula slush fund; and then only by a tiny amount.

    ‘May you live in interesting times’

    ‘May you live in interesting times,

  10. RAB says:

    Well I’ve just got back from a wonderful holiday in the Landsker region of Wales, to find that the Lib/Dems have lost overall control of Bristol Council (Cheers!!!) only to find that my ward Ashley has gone to a fuckin Green called Gus Hoyt!

    Oh well, he will be safely ignored I suppose, sounds like a Country Rock singer to me though…

  11. JuliaM says:

    He does sound like he ought to have a pick-up truck and a geetar, doesn’t he?

  12. freedom says:

    I occurred to me not long after the Lib Dem pasting that we had been waiting to do this all along. My revelation was that we had never really liked the Lib Dems anyway; we were just waiting for the opportunity to show them.

    The whole AV fiasco was a half-cock idea meant to say that we all quite liked the ideas of losers and fringe case nutters having another chance, but in fact we didn’t think much of the David Owen inspired idea all along. True, we tried bravely to think we weren’t a two-party system but the reality was the Libs were always fringe players. they didn’t even have a solid team colour the way the Tories and Liebour did.

    I also think that if they got any support anywhere it was always transient; people who were either suddenly disaffected by one of the majors parties or not wanting someone else to get in. They were the party of not wanting and not caring, and it was always temporary.

    Yet I suppose in all fairness the only reason for voting Lib Dem now would be to stop the Greens getting in…

  13. Roue le Jour says:

    Freedom, I’m beginning to think the Greens are a CIA front. (Dons tinfoil hat;) They want to stop nuclear and promote solar/wind technologies that don’t even work on paper, let alone real life. What would big oil want that was any different?

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