Currer Ball urges Clegg and co to switch sides in the referendum debate
That Nick Clegg’s having to forever defend his decision to trade in irrelevance for Government (where Lib Dem policies are now being enacted under the stewardship of Lib Dem Secretaries of State), tells you all that you need to know about Lib Dem supporters: that a lot of them never really wanted to see their party in power.
Because the reason why people used to vote Lib Dem was that they’d no chance of winning. You might think that for a party pitching itself to govern our country, the teeny-weeny detail about not having a hope in hell of being able to do that might be something of a weakness; in fact, it was always their greatest strength.
Having no chance of ever being elected was the Lib Dems’ USP among the 3 main parties. Unlike Labour and the Tories, the Lib Dems were uncontaminated by the rough and tumble and dishonesty and corruption of power. And this meant that Lib Dem supporters could always kid themselves into believing that their party was honest, incorruptible, and therefore worthy of their support. They voted Lib Dem not to see their party in power, but to feel good about themselves.
When Nick Clegg was seduced into bed by David Cameron (bounding in with a smile on his face), he showed himself to be indistinguishable from Labour and Tory. The Lib Dems’ USP, their estrangement from power, was gone – and with it, so too any reason to vote for them. If you don’t believe me, take a look at the latest polls: YouGov put the Lib Dems on 9 per cent. And if you don’t believe the polls, take a look at the last definitive measure of public opinion, the Barnsley Central by-election: the Lib Dems finished 6th.
And this chronic unpopularity that the Lib Dems are now having to put up with is yet another reason for us to say ‘No’ to AV on Thursday. Lib Dems have always groused that it’s our unfair voting system that’s been to blame for their 80 year electoral flat-line, but they really ought to be on their knees thanking F-P-T-P for keeping them out of Government for so long. It’s the only thing that made them worth voting for. So why would they want rid of a system that’s been so good to them?