Monday, 11 May 2015

I told you so: Or how to dust yourself off and not look conceited.

It shouldn't feel so good to be a Lib Dem at the moment. The electorate has just given us an almighty kicking, almost every bit of good we did in the Coalition is about to be undone, and it's probably going to take at least a generation for us to recover (assuming we do so at all).

Yet I do feel good. Not because I don't feel obliged to defend the complete and utter disaster that was our "reining in" of the Tories. Not because Nick Clegg, who in all honesty had achieved a level of toxicity that Tony Blair would envy, has resigned. Not even because we can no longer be blamed for there being a Tory Government, though some may well disagree with that sentiment.

I feel good being a Lib Dem because, instead of a continuing deluge of the punch drunk and bitter, I'm surrounded by positive vibes. Instead of bemoaning the events of May 7th, not to mention the Coalition, and clinging desperately to the "I told you so" reality of a Tory Government with the brakes off, the Party and it's activists have come out fighting. That's exactly what we all need, and it makes me feel great.

That isn't to say that we should try to ignore our mistakes, like Labour have for the past five years. If our MPs can't bring themselves to say that the Coalition hurt far more people than it helped then we're still doomed I'm afraid. This is true despite the Party managing to bring Mental Health into the limelight, to improve the life chances of lower income kids, to take those on very low incomes out of tax, and to free everyone to marry for love. 

In the end it wasn't enough. IDS has made inordinate numbers of people suffer for no other reason than an accident of birth or of personal circumstance. The NHS has had yet another pointless shakeup at the expense of staff and patients alike. Students are doomed to a life of enormous debt, that is only mitigated somewhat by being time and income limited. The housing market is still in a complete unholy mess that benefits no-one bar the super rich. And all of this on a backdrop of deficit reduction targets missed completely.

In terms of liberal principles, we achieved some success in Government, overturning some of the War on Terror related erosion of freedoms perpetuated by Labour for starters. But to do so at the expense of so many is a shame we will have to bear with honesty and humility if we are to truly rebuild. The current bounce in membership needs to continue, and it will only do so if we show we've accepted and learnt the lessons of Coalition. Most importantly we need to show that we understand the importance of trust and competence.

But that particular task will be in the hands of our new leader and our much smaller contingent of MPs. What the rest of us need to do is dust ourselves off, fight the temptation to say "I told you so", get in touch with our new members, get them involved and active, and give them a reason to stay that way. And looking at social media, and my local party for that matter, I know I'm totally preaching to the converted.

So, it does feel great to be a Lib Dem today. I know we messed up big time, and paid the price for it, but we're not wallowing in or bemoaning our situation, and that's a really great start.

1 comment:

David Evans said...

Excellent post. All the best.