Tories Ousted? What Coup? ….Westminster or Worcester….?
Something interesting happened recently in Worcester – The Labour Party, Lib Dems and Greens formed a coalition and ousted the Conservative leader who had led the council for seven years. This was because Worcester woman and man returned a council with No Overall Control.
During angry exchanges in the council chamber, deposed council deputy leader Councillor Marc Bayliss lambasted it as an “unprincipled coup by a new socialist alliance”, claiming it was about “national ideology, not the performance of the administration or leader.”“What the party opposite could not achieve through the ballot box, they are now forming through a shady deal,” he said.
Fellow Tory Councillor Andy Roberts, who lost his £5,985 role as cabinet member for finance, said it was a “shameless” agreement done behind their backs.
Some might be surprised at the reaction considering the situation following the General Election when there was no party in parliament with overall control. “Shameless agreement behind backs?” Who can forget the days following the General Election when it was unclear who would be the governing party? It seems that those Worcester Tories cannot see the parallels between Worcester and Westminster. Some might say that rather than a government with no overall control, this is a government out of control. Certainly, they are pushing through policies from no party’s manifesto.
The Tories act as if they had won overall control, a working majority. The Liberal Democrat vote was boosted by some centre left voters, who had trusted Clegg’s pledges. Those voters see little difference now between either members of the Coalition, the social democrat element of the LibDems having been engulfed by a government more right wing than Thatcher. The Tories realise this, and, clutching at straws hope for a Clegg replacement which might retain those votes which enabled this fudged coalition.
If it is to win the next election, Cameron’s party needs a Lib Dem leader who can win over Labour voters in Tory-Labour marginals. At present, after the defection of around a third of 2010 Lib Dem voters to Labour, the Tories stand to lose dozens of seats at the next election (Corby was an early warning) – there are 37 Conservative-Labour marginals where the third place Lib Dem vote is more than twice the margin of victory.
The suffering inflicted by this government will not be forgotten so easily by the electorate. What impact have the Liberal Democrats had on the direction of this extreme right wing government? What principles have been thrown away at the cost of power? During that seemingly interminable weekend immediately after the election and before the Coalition agreement, there were contradictions. Shirley Williams warned Nick Clegg about going into a coalition with the Conservatives. Paddy Ashdown spoke on Andrew Marr show, some excerpts here..
“The nation has spoken and in so far as we can determine what it’s said, it’s said you guys are … we’re going to give none of you power to govern alone; you’ve got to learn the habit of working together….”
“We want to preserve frontline services… “
“I don’t believe that anybody can now establish a new government who is deaf to the calls from the British people for a reform to our political system.”
Vince Cable said in December 2010, that he could quit the Coalition. Think Left’s “contradictions of Liberal Democrat Opportunism” examined the focus of Liberal Democrats on power over principle. Many Liberal Democrat voters and grassroots now look to other parties especially Labour, and must wonder why the party they worked for at the General Election have voted for a Bill leading to the break up and privatisation of the National Health Service? This was sold for a referendum on AV which was duly lost. Was this really a price worth paying?
- We might well ask this question following the failures of AV and House of Lords reform, that being in government has not given them a ‘sufficient legacy’. John Kampfner’s extraordinary piece in the Guardian ‘The Lib Dems are in a stronger position than the Tories – but hide it well” – Cameron needs Clegg more than Clegg needs Cameron – so why won’t the Lib Dem leader show some muscle?’
- The much vaunted Pupil premium was supposed to be ‘the reddest of the Liberal Democrats’ red lines’ with an additional £2.5 bn for the education of disadvantaged children. But, in fact, the pupil premium was ‘robbing Peter, to pay Paul’… the majority being recycled from within the education department’s budget’ – largely from the abolishing of EMA.
- Another LD ‘achievement’ was to raise the personal allowance, ‘taking the poorest out of taxation’, but Patrick Collinson in the Guardian dismissed it as an ‘empty gesture’ As income goes up benefits will go down, and a million more basic-rate taxpayers are set to move into 40% tax band.
- Lib-Dems claimed that they went into Coalition with the Tories because the UK was on the verge of becoming like Greece, and that the Labour government had irresponsibly overspent on public services. Not only was the national debt inflated by the of banking losses rather than by public spending , but this would never have been the case for the UK, with its own currency.
- The popularity for the Lib Dems in 2010 by the younger generation, and by students in particular, was no doubt boosted by the pledge to abolish tuition fees, yet we learn Clegg intended to abandon the pledge well before the election.
Lib Dems would do well to consider these arguments from Hucknall’s Councillor Jim Grundy, against their support of this Tory government. The recent by-election in South Shields showed the measure of anger from the electorate, as the Lib Dems were annihilated.
Every day that the Liberal Democrats continue to support this government, they let down the British people. Crossing the floor of the House of Commons might just earn them some respect before they inevitably suffer death throes and subsequent extinction.
- Worcester News: Labour and Lib Dems form power-sharing Coalition to take control from Conservatives
- Labour takes control of Worcester City Council
- Worcester News: Former leader’s shock and sadness over city council coup.
- Shirley Williams warned Nick Clegg about going into a Coalition with the Conservatives
- Paddy Ashdown – Andrew Marr show May 2010
- New Statesman: Conservatives for Cable – Why the Tories want a new Lib Dem leader
- Arguments which every Liberal Democrat would do well to hear, Think Left.
- South Shields By-Election (Daily Mirror) Nick Clegg faces call to quit Coalition after Lib Dem annihilation)
- Why do the Lib Dems stay in the Coaliton, Think Left?
- The Contradictions of Liberal Democrat Opportunism, Think Left
- Simon Hughes: Coalition Agreement – May 2010
- LD Simon Hughes Dissected over NHS, Think Left
- 2013 Local Election Results in full – Guardian
- UK General Election results – Deal or No deal