It was hardly a surprise that the Liberal Democrats were hit hard in the election. Their coalition with the conservatives has come under increasing pressure, both from the electorate and internally. However, instead of engaging in blind hatred; let us transport ourselves back to the aftermath of the 2010 general election.
- CON 36.1%
- LAB 29.0%
- LD 23.0%
- Others 11.9%
This is the result we were faced with as a country, and it left us 3 feasible options.
- A minority Conservative government
- A lib-lab coalition
- A lib-con coalition
While the first was possible, faced with the economic deficit, the general feeling was that strong government was a better option. And so there were 2. Why not Lib-Lab? Gordon Brown was on his way out, and future leadership was unknown. Furthermore, Lord Ashdown claimed on BBC’s question time last week that the Labour party was keener to fall into opposition than form with the Lib-Dems. The general feeling towards the Labour party was poor, and even in coalition it would have been a weak option. So the ‘con-dem-nation’ seemed the only option. Many have accused Clegg of abandoning his principles for power, but there have been many Lib-Dem influences in the coalition. There was an AV referendum, although it was a clear no. Next week Clegg has said he will publish a clearer account of his party’s work in the coalition. The Liberal Democrats perhaps shouldn’t have formed a coalition, but given the circumstances the alternatives didn’t seem altogether attractive. They will most likely continue to pay for their choices, but the AV referendum shouldn’t have been where the payback was exacted. AV was not an issue predicted to get a 70% no vote. What we have seen is the electorate exacting revenge on Clegg, and that is worrying. That is beyond ‘tactical voting’, that is spiteful voting. We can only hope for a maturity gain in the public before the next election.