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The Lib Dem leadership crisis

nick cleggOh no, not the LibDems again. Yes, the crisis in the yellow party rumbles on and on. Though, to be accurate,  this is nothing new – it’s been on slow burn since they spectacularly and wretchedly betrayed their tuition fees pledge. Every vicious turn since, be it the bedroom tax, defending work capability assessments, cheering the backdoor privatisation of the NHS, or ignoring the billions wasted by IBS on botched social security reforms. The litany of regressive, vindictive policies goes on and on. And quite rightly the LibDems have paid a heavy price in blood and treasure. You cannot approach the electorate as touchy-feely muesli-eating lefties and then back the most sickening attacks on vulnerable people seen in recent history. So here is the world’s smallest violin for Clegg’s cravenly opportunist gang.

In a way, it is a joy to see the LibDems going through ringer, even if it’s scant compensation for the damage done. This time I’m especially gratified that it is Uncle Vince, the man with an unearned left reputation, getting a hammering. So it turns out that Lord Oakeshott, one of those who set up the SDP in the early 80s (thereby splitting the opposition to Thatcher), had commissioned a series of (leaked) private polls to show how the LibDems face decapitation in 2015. One of the seats set to tumble was Clegg’s own. The difference between a Nick vs a Vince-led LibDem party was, according to the polling, one per cent – just enough to make a difference in marginals and preventing the coming calamity from being as, um, calamitous.

In one of those little ironies of which I am fond, Oakeshott – whose career was founded on treachery – was himself outed by Vince, his bestest political friend. Cable, away backpacking around China or something, has confirmed he knew all about the polling, while strenuously denying he had any role commissioning them. Definitely not, I’m sure Vince pleaded long and hard with his friend to stop it.

Marx once noted that history tends to repeat itself twice: first as tragedy, and then as farce. It’s not hard to see which Clegg’s leadership crisis should be filed under. It reminds me of a time, not that long ago, when another beleaguered leader faced the old cloak and dagger, of intrigue whipping about his person in a gale of backbench denunciation, front bench resignation, and potential defenestration. The foes arrayed against Gordon Brown believed that if he was replaced things would get much better. Never mind the exhaustion of Labour’s policy offering and anti-political antipathy arising from the MP’s expenses crisis. A return from beyond by Clement Attlee would not have prevented Labour going down in 2010, let alone the likes of David Miliband. Had there been a proper policy overhaul perhaps things could have turned out differently.

This is where the similarity ends, because the LibDems are in a worse position. Switching to Vince might save two or three extra seats. Perhaps breaking the Coalition early might cause a transient uptick in polling fortunes. However, just like the has beens seeking to topple Brown, our hapless plotters cannot see the fundamental malaise afflicting the LibDems. When you’re mired in the crap, you become habituated to the smell and, after a while, you’re barely conscious of it. Changing who shuffles to the front of the cesspool or what you’re saying to passersby does absolutely nothing to neutralise the noxious niff. Unfortunately for the LibDems, they are absolutely stuck between now and polling day. No jockeying for position, no new shiny policies, nothing can avert the drubbing that’s coming. What the LibDems need is a deep, steam clean. The sort only a decade of oppositional activity can perform. And then, when seats have be re-won and reputations have recovered, the LibDems might be in a position to throw it away all over again.


  1. James Martin says:

    There is a renewed split developing based on the previous Liberal-SDP sides of the Party. Interestingly the SDP side (Oakeshott, Cable Owen etc.) appear as leftists in the split only due to the fact that the Liberal Orange Book free market scum on the other side are so far to the right.

    The Party could actually split if they are destroyed next year electorally as seems likely, but I would suspect that rather than a new SDP most of the traitors who are still politically active would find a comfortable home in today’s Labour Party. This would leave the Liberals to be reborn as the party of protest, and in fact in some places like Liverpool the Liberals never went away as a small faction continued alone after the majority formed the Lib-Dims (interestingly the Liverpool Liberals are considerably to the left of the LD’s, and this year were rather more successful than them in terms of the votes gained in the wards they contested).

    But I tell you what really gets me about the Lib-Dim muppets – how many of them appear to be constantly involved in sexual scandal after scandal (and that’s before you even start to consider scum like Cyril Smith). For such a small party that likes to portray itself as ‘nice’ and ‘decent’ it appears awash with liars, cheats, misogynists, sexists and slime balls at every turn.

  2. Frann Leach says:

    I had to laugh at the typo: It was IDS (a politician) not IBS (a debilitating bowel disorder) that was involved in botched social security (or SS as lots of people call it) “reforms”

  3. Robert says:

    Lets see where labour end up after the next election, labour has one of the weakest leaders I’ve ever seen and have just told us they cannot or will not undo the Tories cuts in fact may have to go further.

    The Liberal are a small party who went for power and now have to accept the five years in power will make some of the Liberal’s rich, I’m sure Clegg and Cable and Alexander will be writing lots of books and some will be best sellers, but the Liberal’s are now on the slide out of politics, so you will see an exodus to maybe labour UKIP possibly and of course Tories.

    Labour will get the so called soft right the left will I suspect have to leave no space in labour for lefties.

    But Progress or the One Nation party may be on the rise , let see maybe the Liberal can come back as the Labour party mark two

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