Friday, August 20, 2010

Are the Lib Dems splitting?

Sometimes there are stories that are true, sometimes they are half true and sometimes you just want them to be true. I wonder where the rumours that Charles Kennedy, ex-Lib Dem leader, is thinking of leaving the party and taking other Lib Dem MPs with him falls in that schema?

We know that many activists are unhappy, and some have even left the party. We know from the polls that many more people who lent the Lib Dems their vote last time wont be doing so again.

But we also know that not a single Lib Dem MP voted against the coalition with the Tories, a coalition they went into with their eyes open - no matter how surprised left leaning Lib Dem voters were at the turn of events. Certainly Clegg and Cable look very comfortable with their feet under the big man's table.

I suspect it's over-egging some real grumbling - but who knows? Perhaps the end of the Lib Dems is nearer than we think. Fingers crossed.


Adam Pogonowski said...

Who actually gives a fuck? He is going to Labour, unprincipledly admittedly, but still. Going to Lab indicates a massive switch in most of UK to Lab, thus we are fucked. My point: let us not overhype this. It will be a trice unfruitful au longue durée

POG said...

I tell you what, I'll be well outrageous. I'll say there are SOME Lib Dems, (paul Saunders = one) who are OpTIMUM, and socialist)). The rest = shit and cop outs. The optimum have no option but green as labour pissed on them, and truly, Green policy stops waste and climate abortions. Box, = think outside thereof = optimality. obv.

Jim Jepps said...

The end of the Lib Dems as a significant political force in this country is important. A split like this would be extremely significant.

If I lived in an area where the council was controlled by the LDs and the MP was an LD I'd be particularly interested in whether some of those people might be reconsidering whether they wanted to be members still.

For Greens it's particularly important because much of that LD vote could potentially come to us if we're seen by those voters as a credible alternative. If you don't "give a fuck" about this Adam you don't take the fortunes of the Green Party seriously.

Pippa said...

I'm with Jim on this - it's potentially a huge issue for us. Look what happened in Aus when the Democrats voted for the GST and went into meltdown.

By the way, electoral nerds, if you want to watch an election count with AV head over to the ABC's streaming coverages. It's v exciting watching the graphics as they redistribute the preferences seat by seat ;-)

Pete Shield said...

Whether this is a huge opportunity for the Green Party remains to be seen I think.

There is a potential that the GP could pick up support- votes and members from disillusioned Lib Dems looking for an alternative. Though whether either will stick is debatable. Disillusioned voters tend, if they vote, to vote to punish- it is a negative vote not a positive one. There was a huge disillusioned Labour voter base in the last election and the GPEW did not pick up many of this votes outside of a few constituencies.

That is not to say that next time round it won't be different. But it does say something interesting about the GPEW positioning if people think that the Party stands a better chance to pick up disillusioned Lib Dem voters than Labour ones.

The alternative is that the issue could polarise into a Con-Dem/Labour conflict with parties in between crushed in the dialogue.

Sorry to be hesitant but I don't think there can be any room for complacency here, votes have a nasty habit of not falling into small parties hands. There is no substitution for a good result in Norwich, a high profile for Caroline and a lot of hard work on the ground to build a national campaigning Party to give disillusioned voter an alternative vision of something to vote for, rather than something to vote against.

Europe Ecologie/Les Verts managed that quite well in France last year.

Jim Jepps said...

I think you're right to be hesitant Pete because it involves a big if... that we'll only pick them up *if* we seem credible to them.

There may be implications for positioning - although I'd say that we have think about *which* disillusioned Lib Dems we'd be thinking about - and that would be, to my mind, the left leaning, anti-war, climate change Lib Dems... in short the principled ones.

Rather than chase all of them we should focus on the ones we can win by persuading them with our existing policy articulated in a more targetted way... I reckon.

Hard Drive said...

"... the left leaning, anti-war, climate change Lib Dems... in short the principled ones."

No, you mean those who share your principles.

You can disagree with other's principles but you cannot, necessarily, say they don't have any just because you don't like them!

Jim Jepps said...

I'm perfectly aware that people who don't share my principles can be principled. But it is principle LD's who are considering leaving the party precisely because they have sold out on these issues.

modernity said...

I suppose though the Greens could pick up some Lib Dems, how many of them are actually revolting against the Tory attacks on the welfare state?

I suspect very few.

Many of these people intrinsically accept Tory arguments.

And although I don't think that the coalition is in any way stable (we'll have to wait some time to hear what's going on behind the scenes, the backstabbing, the jockeying for position, etc) and it could be subject to a vote of confidence any time in the next year or so, the problem is, who next?

Another five years of watered-down Tory policies courtesy of new Labour zombies?

Not a particularly welcome development...

Jim Jepps said...

I think the LDs arew in a very difficult position since entering the coalition. Right leaning LDs might as well be in the Tory Party (unless they're one of the lucky LDs to be in cabinet).

There are, I think, a host of different kinds of LD voter which is why, for Greens, I think we should only focus on the ones who share a lot of our politics rather than disaffected rightwingers.

But it's a tall order ensuring they see us as a credible political force and I don't think it will happen by magic