Somewhere, someone is laughing nervously.

April 18, 2012 3:06 pm

I’m sure the laughter of people up and down the United Kingdom could be heard from Australia today, as David Cameron claimed in the first cabinet meeting since the Easter recess that the current coalition government “works well together”. Indeed, out of all the things that politicians have said in my measly nineteen years, nothing has struck a chord with me in the sense of its obvious inaccuracy quite like this has managed to. Indeed, the conservative agenda of this government is extremely clear to everyone who takes the slightest interest in British politics. The recent controversial health legislation passed through parliament with support from only a quarter of GP’s, or the trebling of university tuition fees in England are clearly conservative-leaned policies. However, if you were to ask Joe Bloggs on the street about the influence of the Liberal Democrats on this government, you would be met with an awkward silence as he tried to work out just what they had done. You see, unfortunately for the Liberal Democrats, a recent YouGov poll has shown that 63% of people aren’t sure what the Liberal Democrats stand for anymore, 57% of people agree that they’ve ‘sold out’ for a position in power, and 59% believe that the Liberal Democrats aren’t a suitable party for government. And if this wasn’t enough for Nick Clegg, the Deputy Prime-Minister and Liberal Democrat leader, the survey also shows that the Liberal Democrats are on target to lose FIFTY of their FIFTY-SEVEN seats in parliament. That type of loss would go down in parliamentary history as one of the biggest defeats of all-time.

So, this begs the question. Why are the public so angry towards the Liberal Democrats? Some would argue that as junior coalition partners, they have little overall influence in policy direction. Indeed, in the wake of the student protests regarding the raising of tuition fees, the Liberal Democrats argued it was something they didn’t want to do, but had to as a concession for their place in government. However, their argument, for many, simply does not cut it. Many Liberal Democrat supporters were Liberal Democrats because they felt it was the only party that stood up for them. Previously, students were a key pool of potential votes for the Liberal Democrats. However, in the space of less than two years, the words ‘Liberal Democrat’ have transformed in the student community from thoughts of heroic, exciting, forward-thinking politics to a response most likened to a child-catcher or pantomime villain. Not since the days of Jamie Oliver banning Kit-Kats in the school lunch-hall have the youth of Britain had such a target to aim their disgust and anger at.

I argue that the public do not dislike Nick Clegg or Vince Cable because they are bad people, but merely because they feel let down by a party who used their vote to put through legislation that they most probably did not vote for. Indeed, it’s a well-known fact that Liberal Democrat supporters, at a push, would be more left-leaning than right -leaning. Subsequently, a whole group of potential voters have become disillusioned with Nick Clegg and his party. Indeed, this comes just days after the Liberal Democrats were shunted into fourth place in the national political opinion polls for the first time behind UKIP (the United Kingdom Independence Party). This, for me, is a turning point. Throughout late 2010 and 2011, I felt that the Liberal Democrat reputation amongst their alienated target electorate could be restored partly to how they were before. However, something tells me that it’s too late now. The Labour Party are riding high in the national opinion polls, seemingly on the wave of alienated voters who feel they have nowhere else to place their vote. Indeed, if Labour can gain a 10 point lead with a leader who many deem to be ineffective, imagine how much they can improve on this as the months go on and more unpopular defect-reduction policies are passed through parliament. For Labour, the next six months are key in determining their future electoral success. However, the future is certainly looking bright.

Therefore, when David Cameron said that the coalition works well together, he may have meant with each other. He surely couldn’t have meant they work well for the people of the United Kingdom? The people obviously disagree.

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  • SkepticalJohn

    I’m not so sure I’d agree with this article. What option did the Lib Dems have, they were nowhere near winning the election and probably won’t be for a very, very long time. It was up to them to form a majority government, labour had clearly led this country into absolute ruin, so they chose conservative. You can say that Lib Dems have gone against their own principles, but ask yourself this: What is better, to have been stubborn, perhaps in some peoples’ eyes, heroic and refused to make a coalition and as a result had absolutely no influence over what happened in the country at all, orrrr you can accept to be the juniour partner, have some say over what happens and be able to get some of your policies realised. Politics isn’t a movie, there is no room for heroic stands, it is real life where you have to take the absolute best you can get. And that is what the lib dems did.

    You also can’t say that they had no influence over the NHS budget, the thing was redone and redone again and again – what do you expect – an entirely Lib Dem led budget – don’t forget conservatives ARE the majority of seats in government. Lib dems had a say, certain things were changed – that is about as much as you could possibly hope for or ask for from them.

    And the uni fees? When will people get it into there heads that this country is in MASSIVE DEBT. We can’t keep living like there is no problem. Cuts are necessary, everyone must suffer – so now people have to pay 9k to go to uni each year. BIG DEAL. Get a part time job – 9k isn’t the end of the world, there are thousands of things that will help you out etc. Go live in America and you would pay 50k, some places 300k to go to university and they have the best unis in the world by a long shot. As people start paying more money for unis, there will be more scholarships, more foundations set up to help them, just like in America. It was completely unrealistic paying so little anyway, universities were taking large somes of money from the government and even still there was serious signs that lots of the smaller departments were going to have to shut down or become private because they did not have enough money to fund them.

    The future of politics is looking grim. I feel sorry for the current government, they are being realistic and truthful – unlike labour were. We have to have majoy cuts to everything, that is a fact, the only problem is that each time one is announced it takes about half a year to get it through because so many revisions have to be made. There are going to be a lot more, there have to be otherwise we will go down the sh**ter with Greece, Spain and whoever else.

    It’s time to be realistic, not ignorant.

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