I was thinking about how to approach my conflicted attitude toward the Liberal Democrats. It feels much like a scab that I pick at, when I should leave it well alone so that the wound of betrayal could heal. I could go on, find another party, walk in lock-step with tribal starry-eyed partisans while keeping some sort of self-respect.
Then I realise that this would be no fun; not when I can take the piss out of this party which I have these conflicted feelings about. This party which on paper seems to tick all the right boxes, and which could in a theoretical and alternate universe make me drop a ballot for it in some election.
Then I feel a bit sorry for the task of Sisyphus that the loyal partisans of this party has in trying to repair a brand which is so toxic that if the Liberal Democrats tomorrow attempted to promote cricket and beer, I’ve no doubt that Britain would see widespread support for banning the game and for switching to a teetotaler lifestyle.
The voting public reject things they may actually agree with simply because of the party association. We have some evidence of this. The party’s involvement in the AV vote, the Lords reform, and now the Euro elections. In today’s Telegraph there was an article claiming that liberal MPs were secretly told that the party could lose all MEPs in the upcoming election. I could believe it.
Maybe that belief of mine could be dismissed as a bit of cognitive dissonance; that I engage in some wishful thinking. Possibly. I don’t know. I’m not distant enough from my feelings to be a good judge of that.
And why has it come to this? Simple. They broke the faith. They broke the trust. They are unreliable, naïve, and they are inadequate. They have no spine, and there’s not a single stated conviction that they won’t break with under pressure. Even though thy hold the keys to Downing Street, they happily bargained away all their core ideals – and continue to do so.
They railed against ID cards, but happily supported the snooper’s charter, unparalleled and ubiquitous surveillance of entire populations of foes and allies alike. They trawl through our every utterance of love, our most secret admissions of frailty, our conversations with lawyers or priests. They supported an adventure in Syria, and would sell our health data to the highest bidder. They privatize our utilities and destroy our NHS. All the things they said they were against before the last election, they have now happily and readily supported. If the Tories tomorrow suggested the party changed its name to “Happy Hippos’ Howlers” the party would probably ask “where’s the name changing form”?
Because I, and many others like me, feel this way, their party’s association with causes is likely to make the electorate vote against them – even in issues where we agree. What galls me the most is that their failure will electrify the Faragian thugs, and get us out of the European Union, which will lead to a catastrophic future for me and my friends and my peers.
I was breast-fed to hate the Tories. Labour, well, they’ve never been a Left-party since Tony Blair. But LibDems and I could have been. Could have. Yet since my arrival here, the disconnect between the party’s stated views on the environment, civil liberties, etc have conflicted with the visceral hate from my lefty friends and peers. Friends who helped the LibDems win the last election, only to have a knife in their backs just a few days after. LibDems used to be the party of choice for students and youth, and they used to be as big – if not bigger – on campuses than Labour or the Tories. Today, they score in low single digits, often behind Ukip.
So, in the end, they will not only have broken faith and trust. They will have broken hope as well. That is why I pick at the scab which this party is, and which is why I repeatedly mutter (or moan) my discontent about it.