Stuck between the obvious ideological clashes between those who think such “brave” and tough measures are the “inevitable” legacy of the Labour years, and those who instead call the Budget “reckless” and “dangerous for the recovery“, there appears to be a third category of people.
Yes, you guessed it: LibDem MPs. We don’t really know where the Lib Dems stand, do we?
Less than two months ago they were kicking and screaming that the planned Tory VAT rise was a “bombshell“. They even started a poster campaign about it and incur the wrath of many a Tory hack, including The Spectator’s Fraser Nelson who slammed it as a “dishonest” and “misleading” campaign (see here).
Labour, for instance, can hardly lecture anyone when they signed up to Tony Blair’s ‘Encyclopaedia of Amazing Betrayals’ for a whole decade. But even Tony Blair waited two or three years before making a mockery of the now infamous Labour manifesto promise over tuition fees to mention but one of his “pretty straight” deeds. And that’s saying something.
My problem isn’t with the Tories. I respect the fact that they’re doing what they have to do as a Tory party. They may have kept a couple of things quiet during the election, but they are a Conservative party, we all knew their history and their beliefs and what to expect from them.
The Conservatives are simply practising what they’ve preached all along: the importance of a slimmer state. They believe in it. You can’t say fairer than that. But the LibDems. What do they actually believe in? If they can change their mind so quickly, easily and radically over the timing, scale and quality of cuts, VAT, tax, state benefits, or the best way to achieve recovery, what tells you that they won’t change their mind over anything else if a dogbone is dangled before their eyes?
Sunny says “screaming betrayal at the LibDems won’t work” and that’s this is not only a sign of “tribalism” but also “downright silliness”. They add that “all [this] does is push Libdems further towards the Tories”.
But by focusing on the red herring, he glosses over the devastating consequences of what the LibDems did: following the fine Blairite tradition of turning yet more election manifestos into disposable arse paper that can be dismissed within weeks on the basis of where the most rewarding political wind blows.
Sites like Liberal Conspiracy often go out of their way to find any inch of Tory wording or semantic that would justify lashing out at anything vaguely Thatcherite (that’s not tribalism, is it?), so why shouldn’t Lib Dem politicians be harshly criticised or exposed when their political errors are so obviously blatant and their votes crucial for Tory policies to be implemented?
When the LibDems and the Labour left where (rightly) slating New Labour over Iraq, PFI or tuition fees, did Sunny write “easy with calling Tony Blair ‘traitor’ or ‘Bliar’ or else we risk turing these policies into a Tory monopoly”?
At which point does the game of triangulations end and principles can be asserted to the point that we can call a crap policy or an obvious betrayal by their name – that is, a crap policy and an obvious betrayal?
Source: Liberal Conspiracy