The Liberal Democrat outlook is not so bleak
Depending on which section of the commentariat you listen to, the Liberal Democrats are either going to be swallowed up, split apart, or simply wiped off the electoral map by this experience in Government.
You’ll struggle to find someone who believes the party might ultimately benefit electorally from being in the coalition.
Yet there was an interesting insight in my colleague Steve Richard’s column this morning:
“In a curious way the coalition is an assertion of their party’s independence rather than representing a near fatal loss of distinct identity. For so long Labour and others had assumed that the Liberal Democrats would join a centre-left alliance. This did not happen. They will never be taken for granted in the same way again.”
Quite. And this is why Nick Clegg can be said to have played the hand dealt him by the election result with some skill. A deal with a weakened Labour, while superficially more attractive to many Lib Dems, would actually have been extremely bad for the party.
Yes, some people now regret voting for the Lib Dems and say they will not do so again. But if the party had confirmed the popular perception that they were just an unofficial off-shoot of Labour, what reason would anyone have had to vote for them again?
If our commentariat were not so pickled in two-party thinking they would have given Clegg some credit for recognising this and making the right strategic choice for his party. But the media plaudits appear to have been exclusively reserved instead for David Cameron, who we are constantly informed used the election outcome to complete the modernisation of his party.Tagged in: liberal democrats, nick clegg
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