Lib Dems must act now or face annihilation in 2015

The Liberal Democrat Party must surely be in turmoil after last weeks’ election results.  Whilst the top headline will be the fact that UKIP polled highest the second will surely be the fact that the Lib Dems were behind the Greens and face being completely wiped out in next years’ General Election.

As a Labour supporter I don’t have a great deal of time for Liberal Democrats who in my dealings appear to possess a strange ability to be part of a coalition yet pretend that they are not part of the decisions which that coalition is taking.  Look at our local Lib Dems in Blackburn with Darwen who appear in total agreement with Labour when it comes to being unhappy with the level of cuts imposed on us by the Conservative/Lib Dem Government.

However, from the point of view of healthy democracy, not to mention the historic contribution made by the Liberal Party – which is one of England’s oldest – it would be far better if they did not disintegrate, and offered a more serious challenge against the Conservatives.

So how do the Lib Dems possibly get out of this mess?  Dumping Nick Clegg might help a little – but nowhere near enough.

The answer – in my view – the Lib Dems should resign from the coalition Government.  They should have pulled out of the coalition well before now but there is still time to redeem themselves a little if they are able to say that they’ve withdrawn as they’ve listened to the voters and it’s clear that the voters do not want right wing Conservative policies.

The current void of unhappy Tory voters is clearly being filled by UKIP, and as they grow in success this will inevitably and worryingly lead to a rightward move in British political thought.  And whilst some UKIP representatives have expressed irritation with being accused of being a rightwing extremist party I have no doubt that it is the same ideas that the Nazi Party and more recently the BNP have proclaimed, which are appealing to voters – ideas and policies that rear their head again and again at times of economic hardship – when the public are struggling day to day and immigrants are the easiest people to blame.

We live on an Island.  Everyone in the UK is a migrant or descendent of a migrant; and Europe is our main trading partner.  UKIP’s policies might resonate with people looking for someone to blame for the current mess but the reality is that it’s our Tory Government and its policies of austerity, causing stagnation, that are to blame.  The Lib Dems could be standing in opposition – like Labour – and opposing those policies.  Instead they are a silent voice.

The current debate on Europe and migration is simplistic and ill informed and will continue to be so if the Lib Dems fail to develop a back bone.

As far as I can see UKIP will fizzle out at the General Election as they will not be able to get enough support to win many seats.  However, the consequence is more likely to be an overall Tory majority – which just doesn’t bear thinking about.

Author: Damian Talbot

Damian is the Chair of Blackburn Labour Party. He was elected as a councillor for Mill Hill ward in 2007 and also works in the offices of Jack Straw.

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