Thinking For The Individual

Formerly known as 'Thinking For The People', this site offers some reflections on the state of British society and her people from the perspective of a libertarian Conservative with a passionate belief in the pillars of freedom and responsibility.

Thursday, May 19, 2005

Why The Liberal Democrats Are On Their Way Down

A lot has been made of the great successes of the Liberal Democrats in this recent general election. They have won 62 seats in the new House of Commons, gaining 11 overall. They secured a significant share of the vote which, although goes unrewarded under our system (which I have already written about at length on this site) can easily be commended. Their tactical strategy has sent home Labour MPs in some parts of the country, and Conservatives in others. Regardless of the policies their candidates were forced to campaign on, their election strategy has stunned their Labour and Conservative colleagues in the House.

They are particularly proud of their victory in the student seat of Leeds North West. Greg Mulholland took well over a third of the vote in a close, three-way marginal. They gained 10% of the vote over their 2001 standing. With a majority of nearly two thousand votes, this was some success, which has been repeated elsewhere, whether in the metropolises of the north or the fields of the south. Their growing strength continues to make Tory and Labour MPs sit up and think.

But this tryst across the country with the Liberal Democrats may be short-lived. Take a look at Cornwall North, a constituency which the Liberals won with over 50% of the vote in 2001. They lost nearly 10% of their share this time round, leaving them with a majority of just 5.5%, compared with 18.2% previously. Unless there is some kind of local issue which the sitting Liberal MP Dan Rogerson has lost some of his popularity over, this may signal a trend. Whilst areas of the country which have never flirted with the Liberal Democrats before are growingly dismayed by the Labour government and the Tory alternative, those seats which have endured at least four years of Liberal representation are unenthralled and disenchanted. They're not turning away from the Liberal Democrats before they think it's a wasted vote in our system of first-past-the-post. They just think that the Liberal Democrat MPs are weak, limp failures, offering nothing great to local people. And they think Charles Kennedy's team is offering a vision for a weaker Britain, not a stronger one, and a society which bows down to the enormous problems we all face.

The voters of old Liberal Democrat seats are growing tired with bad MPs. The newly-elected, euphoric Liberals in the House of Commons should take not that the people will never forgive them if they fail in their first duty to their electors. Alas, when one looks at the 'talent' apparently on show on the Liberal Front Bench, I am sure that battle has already been fought and lost.

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