Why are Lib Dems in government?

This may seem like a question that’s been posed, and answered many times before, but unfortunately it still hasn’t got through to the vast majority of the British public. Too many people hold the view espoused by Kerry McCarthy, the Labour MP for Bristol East, who tweeted this morning;

“Petulant response from Lib Dems to my criticism of Toynbee article just proves how much they’re in denial about their role as enablers.”

In other words, the whole Lib Dem party are weak, getting nothing done and propping up the Torie. This is, of course, largely nonsense, even if we have at times been too quiet in promoting what we believe in. At the moment Labour’s constant attacks, such as this one, are having a massive effect on voter’s attitudes, so the whole party needs to be spreading the word about why we are government in and what we are achieving.

That has to start with explaining the position of the three parties immediately after the election. A coalition with Labour would never have worked, quite simply because neither they nor the Lib Dems had enough seats, and a rainbow coalition would have always been a disaster. Lib Dems were left with two choices then; to carry on pottering away in opposition, allowing a a minority Tory government to push through their right-wing agenda, or to grab the chance, enter government and prove to the British public that they can make a difference in public office. It is also worth remembering that Britain was experiencing a period of instability, both political and financial. A tottering minority government could have only made this worse, while the coalition provided a strong majority in the Commons and reassured markets and analysts.

While there was no real question as to whether the Lib Dems should enter into coalition with the Conservatives, it has become rather popular among Labour supporters to criticise government policy, saying it is Tory dominated, and that the Lib Dems have had no impact. Once again, such statements are wildly incorrect. I’m not going to go through everything we’ve achieved in government, but William Summer’s excellent site http://www.whatthehellhavethelibdemsdone.com/ does if you’re interested. You only have to look at the Pupil Premium, the raising of the income tax threshold and the moves to an elected House of Lords to see what impact we are making.

Of course, it’s not all been as good as this. Lib Dems have had to support policies that we don’t agree with (most obviously tuition fee rises) and compromised on some we do. But even here we are making government policy more liberal. We ensured that the earnings threshold for student loans was raised along with tuition fees. When we became concerned about the Health and Social Care Bill, it was modified so it was at least more acceptable. The list of occasions were we have taken a Conservative policy we don’t agree with, compromised, worked together and made it better goes on and on. One only has to look at the ranks of Tories chewing at the bit to scrap the 50p tax rate, or Cameron’s desired response to the riots to see why the Lib Dems are doing such a good job reining in the right-wing tendencies of Conservative cabinet ministers and backbenchers.

And it’s not just Lib Dems saying so. For once I was forced to agree with Nadine Dorries when she said at Prime Minister’s Questions last week,

“Mr Speaker, the Liberal Democrats make up 8.7% of this parliament, and yet they seem to be influencing our free school policy, health, many issues, immigration and abortion. Does the Prime Minister think it’s about time he told the Deputy Prime Minister who is the boss”

Which is exactly why the Liberal Democrats must be in government and must continue to influence government policy. It won’t all be rosy, but we have an unprecedented chance to change the future of this country and change people’s lives for the better. That is why we should not be ashamed about being in power, but go and explain to the electorate the why we are and what we are doing. We should admit that we haven’t done everything right, but we should also say what our reasons are, and how we are going to make up for them. If we don’t do that we will be heading for certain defeat in 2015. We should be proud of what we’ve done, and not be disconcerted by what we have not.

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2 responses to “Why are Lib Dems in government?

  • futiledemocracy

    I’m sorry, but:
    Unemployment – Done.
    Dismantled NHS – Done.
    Bend over to be fucked by the banks – Done.
    Stagnating wages – Done.
    Provoke riots – Done.
    VAT rise – Done.
    Pull any support for poorer children (EMA) – Done.
    Close as many youth centres as possible – Done.
    Close libraries – Done.
    Make people work until they’re basically dead, before giving them a pension – Done.
    Demonise disabled people – Done.
    Rising inflation – Done.
    Threaten Unions – Done.
    Burden of debt created by wealthy, slammed onto the shoulders of Nation’s 18 year olds – Done.
    Tax cuts for the wealthy – Done.
    All within 15 months.
    It makes Thatcher look like a Socialist in comparison.

    The Liberals have capitulated to the idea that we need to cut the deficit immediately. Everything they “achieve” has to be looked at in that context. So far, they appear to achieved nothing but becoming Tories.

    ” We ensured that the earnings threshold for student loans was raised along with tuition fees.”
    – Irrelevant. You have placed the burden of the debt, incurred by bankers who have now (unless you’re completely on a different planet) gotten away with what they did. And when you guys “disagree”, you send Simon Hughes on TV to appear as if you haven’t all became Tories, and then after he rants for half an hour, he cowardly abstains. The Lib Dems, are an absolute disgrace. Worse than Tories. At least with the Tories, we knew they didn’t give a shit, and so weren’t under an illusion.

    You are delusional if you think you have ‘reigned in right winged tendencies’ of the Tories. You can point to bits here and there, that make no difference when taken into account alongside rising unemployment, out of control inflation, and stagnating wages…… but it absolutely does not excuse just how badly you have betrayed people like me, who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010, and who will never put a cross next to the Lib Dem box again.

    The website you quote, is misleading, because it gives no context. For example:
    “Have taken 880,000 low earners out of income tax altogether through the key Lib Dem policy of raising the basic income tax threshold”
    – Great. Now why don’t you stop throwing thousands out of work, why don’t you control inflation, why don’t you stop claiming that the only way to deal with higher public sector pensions, is the bring them down in line with the private sector, rather than arguing that the private sector should be contributing more instead of paying its CEOs obscene wages and bonuses. Why don’t you tell the people in Leicester who were found to be working in sweatshop conditions making clothes for Topshop, why the government employed Phillip Green? Why don’t you give EMA back? You’re giving people £1, and charging them £2. It isn’t an achievement. It’s subtly disguised Neoliberal bullshit.

  • futiledemocracy

    Also:
    ” It is also worth remembering that Britain was experiencing a period of instability, both political and financial. A tottering minority government could have only made this worse, while the coalition provided a strong majority in the Commons and reassured markets and analysts.”
    – Cop out. Markets are reassured by demand. You take demand away from the market place, and you will have very very low growth. As we see now, you have taken the demand away from the market place by throwing thousands out of work, scaring 18 year olds with a mass of debt, and pulling safety nets from the most vulnerable. And unsurprisingly, we see pretty much no growth.
    A minority government would have been far preferable. We wouldn’t have had to endure a fucking awful NHS restructuring. We wouldn’t have had to raise tuition fees (a policy, I still cannot understand the point of) and i’d hope VAT wouldn’t have been shoved up.
    If you think what you have done, has “stabilised” anything, you’re insane.

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