Does a LibDem rebellion have a leg to stand on anyway?

Last night on Question Time, Vince Cable looked like a true Tory. As one audience member said, I never thought I’d see the day where Cable is more right-wing than the Mail columnist. And that he was, as he provided full support for the ‘free schools’ policy, something the LibDems used to criticise – but it is hardly suprising Cable has ‘changed’ his mind, once considering the hug ‘u-turn’ he did in regards to cutting. Vince Cable is even now joining in the defense of the VAT increase, saying it isn’t that regressive after all, and even purporting, as Osborne did, the increased cutting of welfare benefits. Many believed that Cable was once a social democrat on the left of the LibDems, I am as amazed as them to see how right-wing Cable is becoming. Once a very respected man, is turning into the Tories’ regressive shield – as shown by the fact that he was the one to go on QT in budget week.

I have been amazed by some of the LibDem criticisms to the oppositional parties, not just Labour – who have rightful worries about the budget. Yes, Labour did contribute to the situation we are in. But with the need for investment after the Tory crusade on jobs and the public sector from the 80s-90s, and then the economic crisis needing the government to provide insulation for failing banks etc to protect the economy, there are some good reasons why they did so – something, I remember the LibDems once supported (this is not to deny that Labour did make some stupid decisions and have spent and introduced measures that have made things a lot worse than it could have been).

Mark Thompson argued for example, that Labour (and other oppositional parties such as The Greens) are not reflecting public opinion citing one poll that showed only a fraction more of the public approving the budget than those who disapprove. This discounts the fact that the LibDems have gone down the polls drastically, a clear reflection that their own supporters don’t like the measures so keenly as many LibDems like Clegg are making out. Furthermore, it doesn’t take into account the sound intellectual analyses by researching bodies, charities and so forth – who one by one are illustrating in various ways the damage that this budget will do. The most clearest example of this is the Institute of Fiscal Studies. But then Clegg tried to get around it by arguing that it doesn’t take into account the ‘progressive’ policies the government is going to implement in the future. For one, this then undermines their own attempts to provide such an analysis now, but two – ‘progressive’? Do you mean those future cuts, such as to the welfare budget, by any chance?

The potential amendment rebellion has been squashed, after Hughes has been forced to deny that he actually meant he would challenge the budget to make it more fair – when that was exactly what he was saying. However, have LibDems such as Hughes really got a leg to stand on? After all – they did vote for the deal. Are you seriously telling me that they thought the deal would amount to the progressive policies that they wanted? At least LibDems such as Mark Thompson are accepting the budget, as after all a deal with the Tories they knew would result in the type of polices we have seen. As I have said before, only Kennedy as a LibDem MP commands any respect as a rebel, as he was the only one who stuck his hand up and voted against the coalition as he knew exactly the type of policies and budget that would result from a Tory led coalition.

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4 thoughts on “Does a LibDem rebellion have a leg to stand on anyway?

  1. I like your attitude, but don’t you think it looks rather hypocritical to have supported the coalition and then to argue against the policies that you knew would happen anyway.

    I mean, in the coalition agreement it says “fast and deeper cuts” had been agreed.

    Personally, ideologically, I think the LibDems are rather screwed.

  2. I watched that edition of QT and I was struck by how dejected and lost Cable looked. I can’t remember the last time I saw an MP seem so overwhelmed, and so seemingly uncovinced by his own comments. He reminded me of Faust at the moment he realises what his deal with the Devil really means.

    This coalition should never have happened. The Lib Dems could have agreed to support the Tories as and when it was appropriate to do so, which would have lent them some influence in policy and also preserved their standing with the public. That standing is rapidly diminishing now. Pre-election, it seemed that three party politics was a meaningful prospect for once. Now it means nothing. They’ve robbed the electorate of its only viable alternative to the two main parties, and doomed us to God knows how many years of ruthless Tory fiscal squeezing.

    What a mess.

  3. richardsblan,
    i totally agree – Cable did look lost – no wonder too when he was defending some of the right wing ideas he fought an election against. It must have been wholly devaluing to be more right wing than the Mail on some issues such as free schools. This was the price the LibDems have paid however, for their power.

    I agree in parts to that. The coalition shouldn’t have happened with the Tories a minorty rule would have been better. However, the progressive coalition would have been better, but it sounds like the LibDems would have still supported all the cuts and stuff as that was a key reason the deal with Labour didn’t happen – as they went in demanding cuts fast and deep as we are seeing now. The LibDems might have gone, but there is now room for more alternatives such as the Greens to fill the gap.

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