(typing this on a netbook with tiny fiddly keys, please forgive any typos)
I’ve been asked a few times if I feel stupid for voting Lib Dem in the last General Election. The answer I usually give is “yes and no” (a classic Lib Dem position if ever there was one).
“No” because back in May I genuinely believed that the Lib Dems were the best option for the country. This was not as a result of Cleggmania, that (very) temporary hysteria that surrounded the party leader following the televised debates. In fact, I had voted for the Liberal Democrats in every election since I became eligible to vote. I thought they offered something new and interesting, a genuine third way — untried and untested, but that is what’s needed.
“Yes” because the party has, in my view, betrayed the people who voted for it by going into Government with the Tories. At first I was hopeful that a Liberal Democrat presence in the cabinet would restrain the Conservatives and lessen the impact of harsh Tory policies. In fact, the so called “coalition” is really a Conservative government in practice, with Liberal Democrats simply rubber-stamping the policies. A few crumbs (the postponement of Trident, voting reform) cannot make up for threatening the future of the BBC, imposing steep rises in university fees and introducing massive cuts in benefits (and many people who receive benefits are in genuine need, not scroungers as the tabloids like to make out).
The cuts announced today are a case in point. I don’t doubt that cuts need to be made, but these cuts are too harsh and too fast.
I have no idea who I’m going to vote for next time. Maybe it will be Labour, if they get their act together and remember they’re supposed to help the working class, not send them to fight unjustified wars. Ed Miliband is making some of the right noises, so let’s see what happens.