Liberal Democrats clap as they are led like lambs to the slaughter…
Towards the end of the last Star Wars prequel, Revenge of the Sith, the now Emperor Palpatine makes a grand speech about the birth of the Empire. Padame, the tragic heroine, opines ‘so this is how democracy dies…to thunderous applause’. Substitute ‘democracy’ for Liberal Democrat Party and you have close to how things felt at the close of Nick Clegg’s conference speech today. They applauded, cheered and probably stamped their feet as their deluded leader left the podium having pronounced the end of his Party. It will be tough but dont worry folks because in 2015 we will live in a totally different Britain was the basic message. Clegg is right. In all likelihood by then Britain, having been on the cusp of economic recovery in 2010, will be in the doldrums of stagnation or worse, in the teeth of a new recession by 2015.
Westminster will still be elected under First Past the Post and House of Lords reform (‘a third term issue according to Clegg’s partner, Mr Cameron) will still be being discussed in committee because the failure of the AV Referendum will see Cameron’s reforming zeal somewhat diminished;
‘Nick, my friend, like you have said reducing the deficit, smashing the trade unions and stamping on the heads of poor is the priority’
he will say. ‘We will not return to the 1980’s’ -Clegg said, unable to appreciate the irony of delivering a Thatcherite speech, even to the point of using exactly the same metaphors proclaiming ‘Thatcherism is dead’. He may have a point; this government will probably spend less than Thatcher and will probably stamp all over the middle classes much more and thus suffer the indignity of uniting everybody from the super rich down against it in opposition. Underpinning Clegg’s speech was another Thatcherite message; There Is No Alternative. For somebody who is supposedly in favour of pluralism Clegg is remarkably inflexible in how he thinks which rather gives the lie to the claim he embodies a new, more consensual kind of politics. Some Labour Party comrades like this but I do not and I would say that ‘pluralism’ will soon become a dirty political word that people will come to be seen as a by-word for selling out.
No self-respecting Labour Party would ever ally with a Party which had Clegg its helm after having heard him pay fast and loose with the facts in trashing the previous government. Fast and loose with the fact that in gentler times most of what Labour did was supported by? You guessed it. The Liberal Democrats. Clegg thundered on about removing people from income tax (the same people who will get disproportionately hammered by a VAT hike) and ending ID cards (this government seems awfully fond of using lie detector tests) as if he was a great leader, which he isnt. He declared war on tax evaders (using private companies to chase the same people who run them) as well as welfare cheats without any understanding of the relative cost of the two problems. Barely a billion spent on this but as much as £15billion slashed from the welfare bill just as people are being thrown on the dole. I defy a Liberal Democrat to explain the ‘fairness’ of that. If you look beneath the surface and who does Clegg really want to target? Organised criminal gangs who evade tax because errr durrr they are criminals. So much for making the rich pay, Gideon’s best friends can sleep contentedly on their yachts.
Clegg’s liberalism is class war that makes pretensions and po-faced noises about fairness and treats people like fools. Maybe it is not as naked and unbridled as Thatcherism but the end results are still the same and, I have to say, I prefer the stark honesty of Thatcher to Clegg’s hocus-pocus anyday. Looking at the opinion polls it is looking already like the razzel-dazzel of the Clegg machine is becoming a tired old act. Long may that continue and now matter how hard they clap – Liberal Democrats are still being led like lambs to electoral slaughter.