By John Brindley - Staff Author
A SENSE of perspective is one benefit of age.
As the years tick by, us grizzlies have not only worn the T shirt but usually found it wasn’t so eye catching after all.
Trends come and go, often in ever decreasing circles.
In the murky world of politics, I’ve identified a few – the fact that those old enough to have lived before the European Union tend to be less of a fan, the rallying call for ‘change’ almost always means a rearrangement of the same deckchairs on the Titanic, then there’s the fake Liberal revival.
The Liberal Democrats understandably claimed crumbs of comfort from the major spanking delivered to the Conservatives and Labour at the local council elections.
They gained 676 seats as the main beneficiaries from disastrous Tory losses of 1,269.
Yet declarations by odious leader Vince Cable that ‘we are now very much part of three-party politics’ are as laughable as the sound bites of some of his predecessors.
The fact is the current party political system – the one the country now knows desperately needs reforming as the Brexit shambles continues – has only ever accommodated two major parties.
In a lamentable demonstration of just how narrow the choice is in the United Kingdom, Conservative and Labour scooped an astonishing 83 per cent of the poll at the last General Election in May 2017.
The Liberals are infact so much of a minor player, they now have only 11 MPs out of 650.
The problem is they have always backed the wrong horse in trying to get themselves out of the doldrums – and by declaring themselves as ‘the Remain Party’ they have done so yet again.
In the early 1980s, just as today, there seemed to be plenty of fruitful political ground to fill between Mrs Thatcher’s far right government that had taken control in 1979 and Michael Foot’s Labour which, like Jeremy Corbyn in 2019, was much more left wing than usual.
The so-called Gang of Four, David Owen, Bill Rodgers, Shirley Williams and Roy Jenkins, split from Labour to form the Social Democratic Party.
Near instant opinion polls gave them more cause for optimism than this latest result – but proved completely misleading.
The Alliance between the Liberals and the SDP was so intoxicating that Liberal leader David Steel issued his famous rallying call to delegates at their party conference in Llandudno in 1981: “Go back to your constituencies and prepare for Government.”
So how many MPs did they scoop in the 1983 Election? A miserable, pathetic 23!
Put simply, the country wasn’t convinced Labour’s cast offs were the agents for change and voted with their feet.
Fast forward to 2010 and the slick but sickly Nick Clegg charmed Britain’s youth.
The prospect of cancelling tuition fees gave him great credence as young people began to engage with party politics.
The promise that was never fulfilled but still only enough to win 57 MPs, five fewer than they had bagged in 2005.
But then came the Liberals’ latest horrific chess move. Abandon all their principles – if they have any – and prop up David Cameron’s austerity Tory government.
The result? The Liberals were given an almighty kick in the teeth in the 2015 poll and again in 2017.
So, having blundered by claiming the centre ground with unconvincing policies and the ‘national interest’ in a grasp for power, today’s Liberals have now completed their hat trick.
Having conclusively shown they are anything but Liberal, they abandoned their title of ‘Democrats’ by positioning themselves fairly and squarely against the biggest poll of all, the 2016 European Union referendum.
Their idea of ‘respecting the result’ is to completely ignore it, somehow concluding that a second vote would magically bring us all back together.
Their ‘success’ at the polls last week was laced with irony. The other two parties got caned for trying but failing to deliver Brexit – the Liberals supposedly gained for doing everything possible to prevent it.
Supporting Remain may win them a few battles but long term will be as disastrous as any of their previous moves.
For they will be seen as the party that did nothing to help break the Brexit deadlock – and the one that told 52 per cent of the population they were wrong and their views don’t count.
Cable may be licking his wounds as quickly as May 23.
The obvious protest vote at the European elections is not for the Liberal Democrats but for Nigel Farage’s Brexit Party.
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