The public have spoken. They aren’t exactly enamoured with Nick Clegg and his party and they told them resoundingly so at the ballot box on Thursday. Well that is what I’ve read everywhere anyway. The Lib Dems took a bit of a mullering at the polling stations on Thursday but the facts are they only lost 4% of their national vote but lost around half their council seats that were up for election. You’ve got to love the First Past The Post system.
What the Lib Dems did lose was the north where they are fighting the Labour Party and the SNP. In the south is straight up fights against their coalition partners they didn’t do great but it certainly wasn’t a massacre by any stretch of the imagination. So instead of being told by the electorate that they hate Clegg and his party, what the public said in the north was, ‘we hate the Tories and anyone who is even seen having a quiet drink with a Tory is frowned upon let alone working with them in a coalition so we canned you and returned to our abusive ex (Labour) trying to forget the bad times and remembering the boom years.’ In the south the public said, ‘in general at a local level your lot haven’t done a terrible job so we’ll not beat you up so much’ and in the highlights they said, ‘we don’t trust anyone – lets screw them all up and vote that nice Alex guy into power – that’ll learn them,’
So as you can see – not as bad as the newspapers will make it out. However the newspapers have made it out to be the worst polling score since anyone else but John Sergeant strode on the dance floor in Strictly Come Dancing. Therefore the nicey-nicey approach is over for the Lib Dems in coalition and they’ll play the part of Andrew Tweedy to the Tories Cheryl Cole. The annoying half-brother who won’t stop talking and making things difficult for their more popular and glamorous cohort. Did I just call the Tories glamorous? Oh boy…
First of all we have the NHS reforms. They are done with. Finished. We’ve come to the end of the road. Andrew Lansley it was nice knowing you. Enjoy going back to the backbenches. Whatever you propose it will be killed by the Lib Dems because quite frankly the party needs to be seen to be doing what the general public want – not doing what might be best for the country. I have no idea whatsoever if the NHS reforms are a good or a bad thing – I’ve not looked at the bill closely nor do I have the evidence to look at it and form an opinion. The general public though hate it (even though few will know or understand the bill as it is written) but that’s not the issue. If the public hate it then so do the Lib Dems. As long as it isn’t in the coalition agreement then its not going through if its unpopular.
I know the previous two sentences sound babyish but I think that it is probably true.
The Lib Dems need to be seen to do two things between now and 2015. Show that they can work with the Tories to regenerate the economy and cut the debt as well as be a thorn in their side to make sure that ultra right-wing policies are not passed through the house. The public need to see that the Lib Dems aren’t just propping up a Tory government like most people inaccurately perceive. Remember folks politics and TV talent shows are rarely about fact but more often about ill-informed opinion. If Simon Cowell tells me that a singer is awful I’m more likely to agree with him. If a newspaper tells the world the Lib Dems are a bunch of bastards who hire yobs to scare old ladies then people will believe them.
Facts dear boy are pointless when it comes to a significant percentage of the electorate. How many people vote for who the media tells them to vote for or who they have always voted for? More than we’d like to think. So if public support is dependent on being a very public bastard to the Tories then that is the root the Lib Dems will go down. The Lib Dems can still do a lot of good – both in terms of the country and the party – in this coalition – they just need to be very vocal about it.
The gloves are off and whilst Cameron and the Tories have out-smarted Clegg and the Lib Dems so far – they’ve only won the first round (possibly with a knockdown) but there are four years left and Clegg and the Lib Dems need to learn fast about not just what they do – but how they do it – and who knows what they are doing.
(I love the Tweedy/Cole analogy – I’m so sad…)
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