Today, in a Liberal Democrat piece on the Conservatives’ plans to repeal the Human Rights Act, I read this:
The Liberal Democrats exist to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society, in which we seek to balance the fundamental values of liberty, equality and community, and in which no one shall be enslaved by poverty, ignorance or conformity. We champion the freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, we acknowledge and respect their right to freedom of conscience.
Now that is inspiring.
But what did we get from the Liberal Democrats in the election?
Who could be be inspired by that?
This is not just useless. It doesn’t even rise to the level of “useless”. It’s a complete abdication of what the Liberal Democrats are about. Their campaign gave people literally nothing to vote for. It just gave them two people to vote against. “We’re not Ed Miliband or David Cameron. Vote for us!”
Yes, the LibDems got punished for having been part of a very unsatisfactory government. Yes, they can legitimately complain that they put the interests of the nation ahead of theirs as a party, and ought to get more credit for that. Yes, the electorate blamed them for not being able to prevent Conservative policies, which isn’t really fair. All sorts of “yes but”s.
But the bottom line is that people want to vote for something. People vote Tory because they think (rightly or wrongly) that Conservatives will give them a strong economy. They vote Labour because they think that means more equality between rich and poor (again, rightly or wrongly).
What do people vote Liberal Democrat for?
The answer has to be all the things in the quote that opened this post: fair, free and open society, liberty, equality, community, freedom, dignity and well-being of individuals, freedom of conscience.
Those are things to vote for. Not “We plan to take a slightly different approach to reducing the deficit that’s sort of in between what Cameron and Miliband would do.”