Clegg’s committee for broken promises

by Michael Dugher

Today’s YouGov poll shows the Lib Dems on just eight per cent.  The poll also gives Labour a nine per cent lead on 41, with the Tories on 32.   This follows the recent Wythenshawe by-election where the Lib Dems received less than five per cent of the vote and lost their deposit for the eighth time in ten by-elections since 2010.

It was in this context that Nick Clegg had the audacity to announce that he is setting up a “negotiating committee” to prepare the Lib Dems for five more years in government.   The press release was issued from planet Clegg or from whatever parallel universe the Lib Dems currently inhabit.  

The Lib Dems will certainly not be running on their record, which is one of utter failure.  Working people are on average £1,600 worse off since Nick Clegg became Deputy Prime Minister.  Yet while families up and down the country face a cost-of-living crisis created by the Lib Dems and their Tory mates, Nick Clegg has decided that his priority should be keeping himself in power.

With their painfully transparent strategy of “differentiation”, Clegg and his party like to pose as a restraining influence on David Cameron, but the truth is that the Lib Dems have nailed their colours firmly to the Tory mast.   They have propped up this Tory government and given up any pretence of believing in progressive policies in return for a few seats at the cabinet table, the keys to the ministerial cars and a parliamentary group that has more knighted male MPs than women. 

They backed a £3 billion top-down re-organisation of the NHS.  They were right behind the Tories when they decided to back a tax cut for millionaires.  And they are equally responsible for policies like the hated Bedroom Tax, which is hitting some of the most vulnerable people in society.   Examples of the complicitous nature of the Lib Dems just keep on coming (here’s a list of 16 government polices they were happy not to block).  

The lengths to which the Lib Dems will go to try to hang on to votes can be seen in the fact that the President of the party, Tim Farron, has called for them to oppose the Bedroom Tax at the next election.  This is a policy that the Lib Dems voted for and defended in government.  And the Lib Dems wonder why people think they’re two-faced.

But saying one thing and then doing another isn’t exactly new territory for the Lib Dems.  Their pre-election promises weren’t worth the paper they were written on.  They promised to scrap tuition fees – and then they trebled them.  They warned against a Tory VAT bombshell – and then they increased VAT.  They said cutting taxes for the richest people in society was ‘cloud cuckoo land’ – and then they gave millionaires a tax cut.

This time around, it does look like the Lib Dems are going to try to avoid breaking their promises – by not making any.  Their deputy leader, Malcolm Bruce, begged in a recent interview:  “Don’t back us into a corner and insist that we make pledges”.  Proof, if ever any was needed, that the Lib Dems don’t believe in anything except clinging on to power.

The so-called “negotiating committee” is just a self-serving committee for yet more horse-trading, squabbling and broken promises.  The only people who will decide the outcome of the next election will be the British people and they know the truth about Nick Clegg and the Lib Dems: you can’t trust a word they say.

When I knocked on a door last weekend in one of Labour’s target seats, the resident told me that he had voted for the Lib Dems in 2010.   He quickly added “never again”.   Something for Clegg’s committee to think about, perhaps.

Michael Dugher is Member of Parliament for Barnsley East, the Shadow Minister for the Cabinet Office and the vice-Chair of the Labour Party

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2 Responses to “Clegg’s committee for broken promises”

  1. Tafia says:

    It’s not the fact the LibDems might only have 8%, it’s how that 8% is distributed that counts. In FPTP voting systems if you are a small party you need your vote concentrated – which is exactly what the LibDem vote is. It’s also why UKIP will not win a seat – because they are too spread out.

  2. uglyfatbloke says:

    True enough Tafia, and we should have embraced democratic reform long ago.

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