The Liberal Democrats have just written themselves out of the story of British politics. Here is why.
- They have exchanged principles for power. This is never a good thing – even if you assert that you will use your power in pursuit of your principles – because this is a race you will never win (as New Labour demonstrated).
- They have surrendered the territory. Lib Dems cannot now exert authority over the ‘progressive centre left’ of British politics. This territory is now available exclusively to Labour (if they get their act together). Remember, this is where most of the votes were actually cast in last week’s election
- They won’t get the political reform they need to break the two party system. The Labour party can now provide what has been missing from politics for a long time: an effective opposition and therefore real choice to voters. This will significantly lessen the appetite for electoral reform making it unlikely that the Lib Dems will win a referendum on this issue, if and when the Tories give it to them.
Thus when the wheels drop of the coalition – inevitable given that this is an alliance driven only by circumstance and short-term expediency – the Lib Dems will have sold their soul, have no place left to go (both in a political and geographical sense) and won’t have got the one thing they really want. They have shot themselves in the foot, the heart and the head – and very few people recover from that.
All the Labour party has to do is avoid electing themselves an arrogant, smug bully as a leader (I don’t even have to mention the name).
And one other prediction. Nick Clegg will stay on the Tory bandwagon, even after the wheels have dropped-off the coalition. And before that happens, many Lib Dem MPs will defect to Labour (provided they don’t elect …). The first defection will mark the beginning of the end of the coalition.
Lets see if this is how the story pans out.