16 September 2011

The changed Libdem party
We have a Tory-led government that the Liberal Democrats voted to put into power and sustain in power. I believe that the coalition with the Tories has worked a sea change in the party and has sidelined the centre-left in the Libdems and put largely centre-right Libdems in government. Since May 2010 the Libdems have experienced a wretched degringolade into a centre-right party and is now the orange poodle party.

Rebellions, full-throated or half-hearted, against the Libdem official majority and the coalition government by individual Libdem MPs, and concern from social liberals outside parliament, don’t change the party reality.

The Libdem record
Nevertheless, I acknowledge fully and applaud the progressive handfuls of Libdems, marginalised by the centre-right majority in the post-election party: some Libdem MPs (and activists) have opposed the majority on the issues I’m about to list. However, whatever the admirable sterling dissent, that cannot change the reality of the new Liberal Democrat party. The Libdems as a parliamentary group have, in addition to ensuring the third reading of the NHS bill, gone along with: the abolition in England of the education maintenance allowance and the building schools for the future program, the abandonment of the extension of free school meals, the tripling of England university tuition fees, the abolition of the Agricultural Wages Board of England, the (postponed/cancelled) sell-off of England’s forests, and the cut in housing funds, the failing austerity program – Keynes is out in the cold – and have backed and are backing Conservative wholesale plans to change welfare and housing programs in ways that hurt the vulnerable; it’s back to welfare as bayoneting the wounded. I think “gone along with” understates the Libdem embrace of these policies.

This is a dismal record and it is the record of the Liberal Democrat party. I think it is done for. The orange poodle is likely to be an orange dodo.

Earlier port
Libdem watch

For data on ‘rebellions’ by individual MPs see the Public whip. It’s important to read the explanation of the term as used on that website.