Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Half-term report: Lib Dems

Well, what to say about Ming's unhappy bunch? Squeezed by the Cameronite progressives to the right and the Brownian neo-leftism to the left, saddled with an aged and uninspiring leader, crippled by financial worries over fraudulent donations the Liberal Democrats have nothing but catastrophic polling numbers to distract them from the sight of Brown's attempts to split their party and discredit their leadership.
Who'd be a Lib Dem today? Where is the party trying to go? To be the opposition to the Tories in the South? To Labour in the North? In coalition in Wales? Is there no end to these questions? Well, fortunately yes. To be fair to the Lib Dems, much of this is not really their fault. As the political stories have been focused on the resurgence of the Tories, and the ongoing soap opera of the TB-GBs and its final denouement, the Lib Dems have been squeezed out of the picture. It's possible of course that in the course of an election they can recover ground - and there is at least one (and possibly two) by election to come - traditional Lib Dem ground.
My gut feeling, however, is that much of the atmosphere that gave the Lib Dems support over the last ten years is starting to unravel. The Get Rid of the Tory vote will largely unwind as the party looks less weird. The coronation of Gordon Brown may also stem the haemorrhage of left-wing votes in the North. The combination is dangerous for the Lib Dems. As Iraq begins to lose its potency as a protest the last identifying Lib Dem difference fades. Unless things change soon, this drift will have serious consequences.

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