Gee Neil. That seems like a bit of a sensationalist headline, do you work for The Sun? Well that is an interesting question disembodied voice that lives only when I want to write in the third person. Many moons ago I did go for a job at that very newspaper but it was not to be. They would tell me no and I would go on to work elsewhere.
So yes. The festering civil war. We all know what it is. It is those who oppose Sir Vince Cable against those who don’t/are at least willing to give him a chance. The MP for Twickenham is never going to appeal to the youth of today. He just isn’t. It has nothing to do with his age, both Bernie Sanders and Jeremy Corbyn could apply for a free bus pass due to their age but are adored by their followers. The reason they are beloved and that Sir Vince is not by these people is the message they are ready to peddle.
The independent senator for Vermont and the current leader of the Labour party essentially don’t believe in the financial system. They think money does grow on trees and that everything can be paid for by the super rich. This appeals to a great many people because why wouldn’t it? Who actually has the time or inclination to actually listen to and understand figures? If someone says it is all bollocks and actually you can have all this free stuff and extra money into public services just because you say so, then who wouldn’t see their hearts light up with glee?
Vince is not going to spread that type of hope, He’s a business oriented guy. He looks at the numbers and works out the best way to use the money available. He won’t promise the Earth and therefore he will never appeal to a great deal of younger people who want everything instead of incremental steps forward.
The problem the party has is who out of the 12 MPs both a) wants the job and b) can appeal to the youth. Well only Vince wants it so the second part of the equation is moot.
This is where the civil war will start to unfold. The undertones are there already. Activists are looking for hope and a forward looking leader. Someone they can look at and believe in to drag the party back towards relevance both at local and national level. Despite what some say, the result in the General Election last month was not good. Not good at all. Some of this is because of the Corbyn surge that would’ve caught many by surprise but a lot of it is laid at the feet of the piss poor national campaign. The party had a diluted message and a leader who nobody warmed to. This can’t happen again.
With Vince the party will have a leader who a certain section of the electorate will warm to. Despite what many people say, Vince still speaks to a certain section of society. The City in particular. Those potential voters will like his business acumen and experience. The question is, what other sections of the electorate can he speak to? This is where the issues arise.
With many activists not being keen on ‘Strong and Cable’ where do they go? What do they do? I’ve even seen some members on social media wanting a leadership election just so they can R.O.N. him and force Jo Swinson to run the party as Deputy Leader. This is so not cool. Jo has decided for whatever reason that she doesn’t want the job, so is it fair to essentially force her to do something that she doesn’t want to do? How is that in any way liberal? The truth is everyone knows it isn’t but some people are desperate. They don’t want Vince and will do anything they can to stop him.
The former member of the cabinet though is going to be the next leader of the party. No-one else wants the job and you only have 12 people who can even apply for it. So we as activists have three choices. One we leave. Two we support and get on with the job of local and national activism or three we stay, throw shade and moan in public and act just like the Labour party have done for the past two years. Yes folks, if we pick the third of those three options (which I think many will) we are set to be 2015-17 Labour.
We all know the story. I don’t need to write about it. Plenty of people actually liked winning elections and Jeremy Corbyn and his followers preferred a movement. They spent two years fighting among themselves and that ended with Labour badly losing a General Election but everyone falling into line because he outperformed expectations. It would be fair to say they only performed as well as they did because Theresa May was so abysmal it is unreal. It made Corbyn look so much better. David Cameron would have wiped the floor with the Labour leader.
Still for those two years it was pretty vitriolic within the Labour ranks. The two factions going at each other and losing ground in council by-elections as well a terrible loss in Copeland at Westminster level showed what a party at war does result wise. Now Corbyn is emboldened that civil war could still somehow spill over as he wants to purge all the non-believers and that could make local parties even more acrimonious. Do we really want that for the Lib Dems?
No. No we don’t. Yet so many are so lost and so disillusioned that they think Cable is so bad that they want to nip his leadership in the bud. The problem though keeps going back to the premise of no-one else wanting the job. How can you stop something when no-one else is willing to step up?
I foresee some pretty bad times ahead for the party. That hope of a bounceback from the disaster that was 2015 due to the EU Referendum has all but been extinguished. A generation of voters have been swayed by the unbridled hope that Jeremy Corbyn and his party are offering. It feels as though until we see Corbyn crash and burn, too many people will want to see him and his ideas get a shot before going back towards the centre ground.
One thing that people often throw at the Lib Dems is that we spend too much time naval gazing. They may have a point and I really do fear that for the next few months all we’ll do is fight about how to remove/stop Vince as he’s not the right person for the job instead of going out there, speaking to the electorate, finding out what their issues are locally and working on them to try and build up our council base at the local elections next May.
Fighting among ourselves is not a good use of time or energy. Even if you don’t think Vince Cable is the right person for the job, does that mean it is best to stop working to promote liberal values? It is tough out there. Really tough. Certainly for those with parliamentary ambitions but things change. Time to keep working within the community and hopefully by the time the next General Election comes along, our national campaign aids and assists candidates instead of hurting their chances of getting elected.
Vince Cable won’t make or break the party. A large percentage of activists losing morale though will. For those who are concerned (and I count myself within that group) I think the best way to move on is to become selfish. Work on local plans and campaigns and get back to the basics of what the Lib Dems do well. Work hard for their local communities and whatever happens in Westminster happens in Westminster.
If we make the leader the centre of our political world then we can push back our hope for gaining ground for another few years…
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