One headline in the Guardians online site today reads "Deputy PM attempts to soothe disgruntled party and holds out prospect of coalition with Labour". What are the grass roots supporters and voters supposed to think? The Liberal Democrats head into the election with a strong centre left agenda – a pro-people stance. People voted on that basis – using the Liberal Democrat vote as a protest vote against New Labour. They were offering a similar agenda to New Labour, with a little more left wing on some things and a little more neutral on others – I''m sure people thought it was a safe leftish vote.
Now as part of their desperation for power they shifted the party to the right, and not just a bit but a whole lot. Gone are the pro-people policies and in are the new pro-business policies. These are the same policies that put this country into strife in the Thatcher years and the same policies that opened our financial institutions to a 'free market' philosophy that ultimately ended in the recent banking crisis.
So where does that put the Liberal Democrats? Could anyone honestly vote for them and know what they are getting? Would people be worried that their vote would be sold out cheaply for a few more moments of glory and power? If I was a Lib Dem voter I would be ashamed and disgusted with it all.
The Liberal Democrats here in Newbury are pleased with the thirst for power at any cost. Their marketing campaigns depict "Can't win here!" with arrows pointing to various parties, perhaps it's not the political parties that can't win here, but democracy itself – sold off by the Tories for some cash and sold off by the Liberal Democrats for a few years of power. This leaves West Berkshire Council populated by the Tories or the Tories (formerly known as the Liberal Democrats). This leaves no opposition and yet more stagnation – not too long though until the next local elections…