It’s said we in the UK are stuck with the nightmare of Conservative slash-and-burn for a full five years. The Conservatives’ oh-so-junior partners, the Liberal Democrats, are in this view unwilling and afraid to say Stop.
I don’t agree. It doesn’t have to be five years. It could – and should – be right now.
The ‘reasons’ given for the LibDems’ current disgraceful positioning are that
* there is a contract between the LibDems and Conservatives which obliges them to continue of the course now set by Messrs Cameron, Osborne and Pickles; and
* in any case LibDem MPs and Councillors across the land are increasingly of the view that their time will be up, respectively at the next national or local elections, so they will refuse to trigger elections any time earlier; they want to cling to their power for as long as possible.
Neither of these reasons need be compelling.
Some of us may have had serious fears that slash-and-burn ‘de-governance’ would happen, but this and related elements of what the Tories are relentlessly pursuing were not in their manifesto, let alone in the LibDems’. There is no obligation or promise to electors which must now be delivered.
The brutality of the ConDem attack, excused against all evidence in the name of economic efficiency, is the modern fiscal equivalent by the power elite of bleeding, as practised by mediaeval medics. Many leading LibDems have acknowledged in their recent letter about applying the cuts that this approach is more likely to kill the vulnerable, than to cure their condition.
Further, if the professional status of individual LibDem politicians really is a deciding factor for each of them personally, there is an obvious way forward.
Triggering an election now would almost inevitably mean the end of many LibDem politicians’ careers; and even a move to their holy grail of the Alternative Vote (AV) may offer little solace for LibDems if current polls on political party preferences are correct.
But if instead LibDems who claim to have a heart were to cross the floor to Labour (as the Gang of Four did in reverse some thirty years ago), these politicians could keep their seats and also claim the moral high ground….
I had to change parties because I couldn’t condone the instant, manifesto-lite and brutal destruction of important public services, with all that means for the economy and employment throughout the UK.
Labour too wants to streamline and reduce public spending, but it seeks to do this in a way which protects the most vulnerable, and offers them real light at the end of the tunnel.
Chances are that Liberal Democrats turning to Labour on this basis would probably keep their seats (as newly-Labour politicians) even post-election; and they would also become heroes, prodigal sons or daughters returning to their centre-left beliefs.
Sometimes political organisations change, and decent people have to move on. Nick Clegg has taken his party, miserably, to a place which few of his colleagues, and even fewer of his electors, expected or welcome.
Crossing the political floor now, whilst something of the public service sector still remains, is urgently the way forward for LibDems with any honour and social conscience.