Sunday, 8 May 2011


Having lost the election in North Hinksey and Wytham I do now have the advantage of being able to speak freely about the results which have come in in the Vale and across the country. It's been a torrid few days and the most obvious conclusion to be drawn is that you simply can't trust the Tories.

I was deeply depressed when we went into coalition with them last year but I considered the various comments and plans over the following days and concluded that it was probably the best thing for the Lib Dems to do to demonstrate that we are a serious party and not a party of protest. That remains valid. We were also being offered nothing from Labour beyond supporting more of the same. It cannot be repeated enough that Labour was planning cuts of almost exactly the same severity had they won the election so we would have been damned for shoring up a failed government if we had sided with them.

So to the coalition and the first year has been interesting. I genuinely support the approach of localism, which seeks to give more powers to local areas, including local health providers. That doesn't mean a complete endorsement of the NHS plans, for example but I did see much to support in the idea of letting people who do health actually deliver it, rather than the cult of the manager which was introduced under the Tories and enthusiastically promoted by 'New' Labour, resulting in 6 managers for every nurse by the time Labour lost.

I even grew to trust David Cameron after many years of deep suspicion. His managerial rather than directorial approach was refreshing after the chaos of John Major and the control freakery of Blair and Brown. He seemed to be a conciliator rather than a leader, which I like. Sadly, his despicable performance in the AV referendum has alienated me completely so that if he comes to my local pub again (which he did a few weeks ago to celebrate its reopening) I might need to leave to avoid a difficult conversation with Special Branch. [Since we no longer live in a free country, for any obsessive security bods out there, I mean I'd like to give him a piece of my mind, nothing more].

As for Nick, well, I can't deny that I'm angry with him. He seems to have bought the coalition hook, line and sinker and, fatally for a politician, he seems to have put away his political antennae for the duration, failing to read the deep malaise across the country with the Lib Dems and our reputation. That doesn't mean I am aligning myself with the bleaters calling for him to resign - I hate that kind of defeatist talk - but I want him to come out with sleeves rolled up and gloves off. I want Cameron and his ilk to squirm because Lib Dems are taking them head on about fairness, health reforms, banking reforms - and how about going back to student fees?

How blissful to hear the voice of Vince once more ringing out in condemnation of the Tories. Let's never forget that Vince roared into leadership for three months and stunned the political world with his activities in that brief time. Chris Huhne is also taking the fight to the enemy - let's no longer mince words - and God bless him for doing so. I will always be a loyalist but Nick needs to up his game significantly.

Let's project forward to the approaching anniversary of the coalition. Apparently Cameron and Clegg plan a joint speech session. Well, Nick, why don't you go off on your own and give me a speech to stiffen my sinews, not one to make Tory hearts glad? Speak to your heartlands, all us mugs with aching feet and ink-stained fingers after this campaign.

And as for calls from Tories like Bernard Jenkin for Lib Dems to move closer to the Tories, wake up and smell the coffee. There is more chance of Blue winning Eurovision than of Lib Dem rank and file members treating your lot with anything other than contempt after this election.

I appear to have moved from grief to anger. I want to see my party do so as well (Go, Vince and Chris!). Rally round the flag, friends -the Gold one, not the one stained with blue. I also want no red in the Lib Dem colours - but that's an argument for another time.

1 comment:

  1. "Put our fists up"? Be more "muscular"? Sounds like you all need to join the local gym.

    Anyway, my commiserations mate, better luck next time!