The people have spoken and they have unanimously decided…. NO!!!
No to what? Well obviously no to political reform. But also a great big vocal no to politics as a whole. Here are some of the other questions posed at the ballot that were rejected.
Q. Do you have any sympathy for Nick Clegg’s scapegoat status?
A. NO!! One thing is for sure, Liberals got hammered in England, Scotland and Wales.
Q. Have you given up on government?
A. NO!! In England Tories are still firmly in control of local councils and whilst they expected to lose hundreds of seats they actually gained 81.
Q. So do you support the government?
A. NO!! We hate tuition fees, we don’t like the cuts but we blame the Lib Dems and Labour so Tories have got through the local council elections unscathed.
Q. Have you forgiven Labour?
A. NO!! Labour fell well short of the 1,000 extra councillors they wanted to gain in England and they took a beating in Scotland courtesy of the SNP.
The public may not know what it wants but they know what they don’t want and that’s everything currently being offered.
The traditional progressive movement in England has been given a resounding kicking. The Liberal Democrats got annihilated in the local council elections losing just shy of 700 seats and 9 councils. Even here in Sheffield, where it was expected that things would be bad with Labour gaining control of the council, it was far worse than expected. Nine councillors were lost and many other wards saw Sheffield’s lowly conservatives overtake Clegg’s men.
And then there was AV. The polls seemed to agree that there was no hope for the attempt at political progression putting it 18 points behind the No2AV campaign. In actuality it was far worse than this as 68 per cent voted against thus giving Clegg his second kicking and leaving his party at a crossroads.
The one concrete result we have got is in Scotland. Ed Miliband wanted the Labour recovery that aims to eventually see them retake Westminster, to begin in Scotland. Such talk indicating Miliband’s patronising belief in Scotland’s subsidiary status didn’t have the desired effect and pushed the voters towards Alex Salmond’s ‘putting Scotland first’ approach. The Scottish Nationalist Party stormed to an impressive electoral dominance destroying the labour party who so long have ruled the lands north of the border. However, whilst the SNP are experiencing a surge in support, this may not actually point to a thirst for progression. Whilst the First Minister, Alex Salmond, now has a position to implement a referendum for independence it is not at all certain that if he does he will win. The result was massive for the party but if they don’t win a referendum on independence then it could be assumed that the results of the Scottish assembly elections were an anti labour and Westminster vote more than a victory for SNP. Salmond is a heavyweight politician operating in a pool of small fish. And whilst clearly he has voter appeal he may have benefited more from poor labour tactics than having successfully united his country over political reform.
Liberal Democrat attention is now being switched to the next great battle. NHS reforms will serve as the latest battleground in order to refocus and regroup the party. I have always resisted previous talk of the coalition government not lasting as ‘too early to say’ but now the government is ‘mission creep-ing’ its way to internal crisis. Divisions that were previously confined to the backroom are now open to the public. Aside from the AV campaigns and figures such as Chris Huhne, and Paddy Ashdown throwing tantrums the formerly silent but lurking Tory backbenchers are creeping into the limelight. When asked about the longevity of the coalition government conservative Peter Bone MP said: “I don’t think it will go on for the full five years that’s for sure. The only reason for the coalition was to come together and sort out the economic mess that labour left this country and once that’s done there’s absolutely no need to continue with the coalition.” He went on to say: “Liberals have got to row in behind the government and stop bleating”. This opinion is reflective of so many Tory backbenchers who don’t see this as a coalition government, but a conservative one with a few refugees thrown in to provide Mr Cameron with the votes he needs to do the bidding of middle England.
Liberal Democrat MP Norman Lamb, most famous for threatening to resign unless changes were implemented to Andrew Lansley’s NHS reforms, stated today: “We have become a human shield for the conservatives”. There is no doubt this is true and it’s hard to see what they can do to change that whilst remaining in government. Mr Cameron won’t throw them any bones. The Tory backbenchers won’t allow it. They’ve come to the fore as they did to derail John Major over the EU. The current PM will be wary of his history, internal party rebellions destroyed the two previous conservative PM’s and now that the Liberal Democrats are so weak and Labour are still a long way back on their road to recovery, his primary concern is to appease his own party.