It’s quite common now to read tweets, posts and status updates that are highly critical of the Liberal Democrats’ role in the UK’s coalition government, often stating that those who voted Lib Dem should now be regretting their choice and sometimes even suggesting that they should feel shame. But do such statements betray a misunderstanding of the realities of co-operative politics, coalition government, and the situation that the Lib Dems were put in by the UK’s electorate?
Let’s follow some links:
We start with an election that delivered an inconclusive result from which was created an unlikely and awkward coalition between a conservative and perhaps even regressive larger party, and a smaller, supposedly progressive party. Presumably necessary compromises were made, leading to harsh criticism from voices on the left you might have presumed sympathetic.
Economic circumstances and a spiralling deficit forced the coalition government into a programme of huge, harsh, deep cuts, resulting in huge protests, and the government becoming one of the most unpopular ever. Banks were controversally bailed out of huge losses, creating a widespread and angry perception that the poor were suffering to rescue the rich.
Many members of the smaller party were deeply unhappy about the polices their party was following, with several in elected positions resigning in protest. Knowing that were the government to fall they would face electoral oblivion, the smaller party was forced into defending the unforgivable. But the smaller party persists in remaining in coalition, ignoring calls to let the people have the new election they want, knowing that their only hope of survival is to ignore damning criticism and instead prop-up the government through a full parliamentary term in the hope that by then, the savage cuts will have started to bear fruit.
Should I, as a member of the UK’s Liberal Democrats, feel ashamed of the story told by the above links?
No, because while I have huge sympathy for those experiencing the problems inherent in being the junior member of a ruling coalition, every single one of those links refers to Ireland, and its ruling Fianna Fáil – Green Party coalition.
Ashamed? You’d have to ask a member of the Irish Green Party.