From 2015 until early 2020, I have found it extremely difficult to decide how to cast my vote at elections. Since I was first able to vote, in 1979, I have always voted Labour. Despite Labour’s ‘longest suicide note in history’ manifesto of 1983 when Bennite madness finally confined the party of working people to the party of seemingly permanent opposition, I still voted for them. And in the 2017 and 2019 elections, I held my nose to cast my vote for Jeremy Corbyn’s ugly perversion of what Labour was about. 2019 was particularly troubling since we all knew by then that Corbyn, if not quite a card-carrying antiSemite (there are many, I know, who regard Corbyn as precisely that and with good reason), led a party that was becoming institutionally racist. To cast my vote for such a perverse version of Labour led me to question my principles and left me open to accusations of hypocrisy. I accept people might think that, so imagine just how much I hate the Conservative party to still cast a vote for Corbyn’s Labour? I still feel sick at the thought of it. But what other choice was there?
The usual protest vote for Tories in the south and Labour in the north was the Liberal Democrats. I have never voted Lib Dem, but could understand, at least pre 2010, how people could vote for them if the alternatives of Labour and Tory were too toxic. But following the decision of the Lib Dems to allow their MPs to take jobs in David Cameron’s vicious austerity heavy government from 2010, the option of voting for them was no longer possible.
Not only did the Lib Dems take jobs in a right wing Tory government, which launched a fully frontal attack on those least able to defend themselves, they were rewarded for so doing. Sir Nick Clegg, Sir Vince Cable, Sir Danny Alexander, Jo Swinson CBE, Sir Nick Harvey – thank you so much for the austerity years, slashing Sure Start, attacking the sick and disabled, tripling university tuition fees and everything else we did to make working people worse off. Lots of love, Dave. PS Have an honour for life as a personal thank you from me. PPS Now go back to your former constituency and get a top job at Facebook, a bank or wherever. Still, at least the new bloke in charge of the Lib Dems is a bit different. Welcome, Ed Davey!
But wait, Ed Davey isn’t different at all. He’s Sir Edward Davey, knighted for services to the Conservative Party during the 2010-2015 parliament. Sir Edward happily supported David Cameron throughout that period but yesterday, upon becoming the new leader of the Lib Dems, said Lib Dems need to “wake up and smell the coffee”. Better still, he’s going to listen, so allow me to give him something to listen to. “Sir Edward. You are yet another privately educated Oxbridge type who has, barring a short period in adolescence working in a pork pie factory, never had a job outside of politics.” Still, pork pies, in Cockney Rhyming slang circles, would appear to be ideal preparation for a man seeking to be a career politician. In my view, it’s Sir Edward who needs to wake up and smell the coffee.
I have heard him interviewed on numerous occasions and defend his time as part of a Conservative government. “We made a difference,” he said, although no one could see what difference either he or the Lib Dems had made, other than to make things worse for working people and the most vulnerable people in society. Or indeed for university students who were LIED TO by the Lib Dems by saying before the 2010 election they would abolish tuition fees and then tripling them when they took jobs in Cameron’s government. No wonder the Lib Dems were slaughtered in the 2015 election and in both subsequent elections. When Sir Edward finally wakes up, there is one word he should be saying: sorry. Sorry we lied to you, sorry we misled you and above all sorry for taking jobs in one of the nastiest, meanest governments in history. Without an apology, we know that the Lib Dems stand by what they did in the laughably named coalition government. Why should we ever trust them again? How do we know that faced the same choices as 2010 they wouldn’t do the same thing again?
In any event, I have my Labour back. Under Keir Starmer, Labour is still not perfect given the sizeable presence of the failed Corbynistas whose role these days is simply to disrupt and destroy. Starmer is more popular than Boris Johnson but the Tories are still more popular than Labour. Part of this must be that much of the electorate still sees the continuing presence of the hard left, from union barons like Len McCluskey and cranks like Richard Burgon, and they don’t believe, with good reason I might add, Labour represents them. In fact, I am far from convinced that Starmer alone will be enough to prevent a Tory majority at the next general election, never mind win itself. But at least I don’t have to hold my nose when I vote anymore.
There are no circumstances under which I could ever even consider voting Conservative and, as things stand, I feel the same about the Lib Dems. Starmer represents a big change for Labour but unless I am very much mistaken, Sir Edward Davey is more of the same for the Lib Dems. And that version of the Lib Dems is the one that enabled and sustained David Cameron in Number 10. Keep smelling that coffee, Ed. You might eventually wake up to the reality of why we don’t like or trust the Lib Dems.