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JUST who are the nasty party now in British coalition politics?
With the British economy sinking deeper into the mire of another potential double-dip recession, it appears on the face of it that the Tories are in coalition with two factions of the Liberal Democrats – and dare you say, are they now the “nasty” party?
On the one hand, there are the Laws’, Nick Cleggs’ and Danny Alexanders’ of the Lib Dem world, desperately trying to make the coalition function as best as possible. Then, there are the ambitious turks of the party, the Huhnes’ and the Cables, keen to twist the knife in the Tory brand at every opportunity. The only one solid foundation holding the coalition together is indeed the Deputy PM Nick Clegg. And once his loyalty dies, the coalition is toast.
When the coalition was formed last year, the slogan concocted from both sides was: “together in the national interest.” But it appears from the last few days of the Lib Dem conference, that the Tories have an internal battle on their hands with some of their coalition members in the Lib Dems.
So what are the Lib Dems up to? Are all these vocal Tory bashings just a cunning ploy to make them seem to be independent from their coalition partners, or, are they really becoming the “nasty” party of British politics. They were slammed for joining the Tory coalition. They were slammed for going back on their manifesto, like the Tories were.
They signed up to the economic plan for slashing the deficit. Today the Deputy PM Nick Clegg has to try to defend that decision to join the coalition, and to persuade factions in his party that they are right to back Tory plans on deficit reduction.
Back in 2002, Tory Theresa May, now Home secretary, more or less labelled the Tories as “nasty.”
She said in a speech to conference; “The public are losing faith in politics. Politicians are seen as untrustworthy and hypocritical. We talk a different language. We live in a different world. We seem to be scoring points, playing games and seeking personal advantage - while home-owners struggle to make ends meet and schoolchildren see years of hard work undermined by the stroke of a bureaucrat's pen.”
She then added: “There are many other reasons why voters have learned to disregard what we have to say, however loudly we say it:
· Promising too much and delivering too little.
· Spinning and counter spinning.
· Pursuing our obsessions, instead of fighting for the common good.”
At least two of those above ring true of the Lib Dems. The second and the third bullet point.
The Lib Dems lost the AV referendum vote. Let’s face it, one of their major reasons for entering coalition was self-interest. And while they may for now be towing the line on deficit reduction, it’s not impossible to imagine them to resort to trying to make the Tories toxic, and to slowly, but gradually pull away from their partners.
If the economy continues on the path it is, there is only so much knocking of heads together that Nick Clegg can do to keep his party happy and jolly in the “new” politics which he so ambitiously signed up to and boasted about in his famous TV blurb at the leadership election contest with David Cameron and Gordon Brown, when fighting to become PM.