Thursday, 14 October 2010

Why be in someone else’s Government?

There’s no escaping it, this week has been a difficult one for the Lib Dems. We had the Browne review on Tuesday which very imaginatively recommended removing the cap on tuition fees. By mid afternoon we saw Vince Cable, one time political heavy weight, conducting one of the most humiliating changes of position I have ever seen. Of course now he supports the Browne review recommendations and his justification? The economic situation means that there simply is no other option. Sound familiar?
In their election campaign the Lib Dems ran on a platform of free education for all but because there was a recession on, they proposed to phase out tuition fees over 6 years rather than scrapping them over night. Here’s Nick to explain more 
But now we see the leaders of the Lib Dems, not only arguing for tuition fees but actively raising the debt burden that young people will face if they want to get an education. This is more than just a U-turn. That is someone else’s policy.
And it’s not the first time we have seen this from the Lib Dems while they have been in coalition. I am sure we all remember this picture (although I am sure Nick would like to forget)

Hum there does seem to be a trend emerging.
The Lib Dems have one view the Tories have another.  Dilemma! Oh no it isn’t the Tory view simply gets swallowed by the Lib Dems and all is right with the world.
But why? What’s in it for them? Is the allure of Government so strong that they will support any policy, even the opposite of what they say they believe in? Is power the ultimate prize so much so that it is valuable as an end in itself?
And to think there was a time when we all thought that the Lib Dems might actually take some of the sting out of Tory policies. (Ah those heady idealistic days)
But seriously what are they getting for their trouble? They can’t honestly think they are creating a fairer Britain, as they rip up state funded education at all levels (remember free schools) and preside over ruthless and ideological cuts to public services that are quite likely to devastate our whole economy.
I can only think of one thing that they are actually getting out of all this: a referendum on voting reform. Yes, they are getting the chance to ask the country to make coalition Governments a reality forever and perhaps for them this does make this soul sacrificing process worthwhile. They would, after all, hold the balance of power for the foreseeable future.
But all this makes me wonder, what happens if they lose this referendum? What happens if one term is all they get before being cast out to be the junior opposition for another fifty, sixty, even a hundred years?
Will their shot at Government have been well used or will their lasting legacy be easily summed up by a satirical poster?

Helen Martin- STUC

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