Some Lib Dems have set up a new group called Liberal Reform, which isn’t at all interesting, except that the website says this:
“Voters intending to back the Liberal Democrats are now increasingly centrists, rather than the disgrunted left-wingers who we courted during Labour’s time in office. Leader Nick Clegg rightly says that “The Lib Dems never were and aren’t a receptacle for left-wing dissatisfaction with the Labour Party. There is no future for that; there never was.”
We believe in Nick Clegg’s statement at our Autumn Conference in 2011 that “we are not on the left, and we are not on the right. We have our own label: Liberal”.”
So on the one hand they’re admitting they courted disgruntled left-wingers and on the other hand Nick Clegg is saying the Lib Dems were never a receptacle for left-wing dissatisfaction with the Labour Party. Clegg is being totally disingenuous.
Of course they were.
In seats like Bristol West it was very clear that the Lib Dems won by presenting themselves as to the left of Labour on a whole range of issues, from tuition fees, civil liberties, Iraq (still), crime + anti-social behaviour, the environment, and the whole Vince Cable economic agenda (which seems to have vanished into the ether now that he’s in charge of BIS). Labour lost other seats to the Tories, i.e. Labour/Tory marginals, because some on the Left were disillusioned with the Labour government, and chose to give their vote to the Lib Dems, in what they saw as a principled stand and now deeply regret for two reasons: a) we’ve got a Tory-led Government and b) the Lib Dems have incontestably proved themselves unworthy recipients of those votes.
This isn’t true everywhere. In many seats in the South West, Lib Dems won by portraying themselves as a nicer version of the Tories, and courting votes from Labour people who don’t think we can win there. (Which is why they’re probably on a hiding to nothing in those seats next time.) The fact is, Lib Dems win by pretending to be what people want them to be, and saying what they think people want to hear. But now they’re actually in Government, and supporting everything this terrible Government is doing, they can’t keep up the pretence any longer.