As Lib Dem leader, Cable’s coalition past is in the spotlight – he must tackle it head on | The Friday Article

As Labour and the Tories veered off to the far edges of the political spectrum, the Liberal Democrats were the middle ground for the electorate. Led by a young politician with no coalition backstory, simply a vision of an ‘open, tolerant and united’ Britain, those wary of Corbynism but frustrated with austerity backed Tim Farron’s movement. Whilst the growth in the party’s number of MPs was minimal, faith was slowly but surely returning to the Lib Dems. Yet now, the election of Vince Cable as Farron’s replacement could undo the so-called ‘Lib Dem fightback’.

Tim Farron slowly won back faith in the Liberal Democrats. The election of Vince Cable (pictured) threatens to undo that process. Photo: Liberal Democrats/Flickr.

It seems as though the Liberal Democrats could learn a few things from Corbyn when it comes to vanquishing your party’s haunted past. The allotment fanatic was able to drive out Blairism in a Labour that was stuck to the right of the political spectrum. Granted, a public apology was given by Nick Clegg for the mistakes of the coalition, but the fact that the video is remembered more for its catchy parody than the original, shows just how seriously everybody took the message.

So, aside from the fact Cable was elected with no opposition (we can save the debate about how democratic this is for another day), the electorate – and certainly young people – have not forgotten the tuition fee u-turn and countless other controversial decisions made between 2010 and 2015. In the recent election, the Liberal Democrats had the added bonus of ‘the progressive alliance’ on their side. Now, the subsequent assumption that the party will return to flirting with right-wing policies could not come at a worse time, when there is a need for centrist politics.

It would be wrong to assume that all young people were swept under the wave of socialism brought about by Jeremy Corbyn. However, Farron’s Liberal Democrats allowed some of them to back the party when tactical voting allowed that to happen. With promises of a second Brexit referendum on the final deal and the 1p income tax plan for the NHS, the appealing policies meant the party was a back-up plan for young people unable to back Labour. However indirect, the ‘progressive alliance’ or ‘anything but the Tories’ operation led to young adults putting their cross in the box for the Liberal Democrats. A realist would argue that it was a ‘last resort’ option, but an optimist would have  you believe that a sense of trust or faith was starting to develop in the minds of young people, despite the calamitous decision to break their promise on student fees.

However much it shouldn’t be, emotion-led politics means personality has a big part to play in today’s votes. As the coalition minister responsible for the privatisation of Royal Mail, the haunted past of the Liberal Democrats has been shoved back into the spotlight following Cable’s election. If the Lib Dems are to continue the laborious process of winning back young people’s trust in the Lib Dems (led by Farron), then a leader who is willing to adapt and tackle the issue head on could be the answer.

 

 

Advertisements

Why Tim Farron should lead the fight against the Conservatives’ plans for tuition fees | The Friday Article

Past mistakes are affecting parties on the political spectrum. Labour are worrying about the upcoming report from the Chilcot enquiry, whilst a flawed mayoral campaign by the Conservatives exposed hatred and racism in the party. Now, the Tories’ plans to further increase university tuition fees have reminded us all of a ghost which still haunts the Liberal Democrats Party, but this may be the chance for them to finally move on.

Tim Farron
Tim Farron should fight against the Tories’ plans for tuition fees, and rid the party of the mistrust caused by Nick Clegg. Photo: Liberal Democrats on Flickr. Licensed under Creative Commons – https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/2.0/legalcode.

After all, it was something the Lib Dems hoped would go with Nick Clegg following his resignation as leader of the party. For previous leaders involved in government, their broken promises and radical policies have always been assigned to them more than the political group they represent – take Tony Blair and Margaret Thatcher, for example. However, this didn’t happen for The Liberal Democrats. They lost 49 seats in last year’s general election, mistrust still lingers around them and the media – presuming the party is ‘non-existent’ – has focussed on Labour and the Conservatives’ internal affairs instead.

Granted, the Liberal Democrats talking about tuition fees would only be seen as prying open a wound which was doing its best to heal. Yet, that is precisely the point. The mistrust generated comes from broken promises on tuition fees, so why not start the process of winning the trust back by fighting against that exact policy?

At the moment, Labour’s petition has had over 195,000 signatures, but as the party who introduced university tuition fees in 1998, their impact with the petition could crumble should the Conservatives decide to bring up that fact. Meanwhile, the issue with the Liberal Democrats is slightly different and more understandable. Unlike Labour’s conscious decision to implement the fees, Nick Clegg and the Liberal Democrats had to accept David Cameron’s plans to raise tuition fees, despite it not being their intention. It’s a small contrast, but it’s something the general public are accepting, slowly and reluctantly.

With Tim Farron as their new leader and success in this year’s local elections, the Liberal Democrats are on the rise with renewed passion and motivation, but they still have a way to go in winning back the public’s trust. Whilst the controversy over tuition fees has always somewhat restrained the Lib Dems since 2010, now, it may in fact set them free.

Liam

How I got involved in politics

I should probably begin by saying that 2015 wasn’t the year I started to get interested in politics. No, it was way before that. It was when primary and secondary schools taught a small amount about politics for fear of breaching the impartiality rule. I knew about the basics, but not the discussions or the arguments and that – for me – is the interesting part.

2015 was the year which brought these political discussions to my attention. The raising of tuition fees was something that would affect me and the demand for 16 and 17 year olds to vote involved those in the academic year below me. If young people are not interested in politics, then it’s because it is yet to impact their personal life. Politics – and of course elections – should be as much of a personal vote as it is a wider public one. Instead, they remain personal.

It was through campaigning with the National Deaf Children’s Society that I knew the importance about making your voice heard. Going to the Conservative Party Conference last year also introduced me to other aspects of politics which I was yet to explore. Of course, the General Election was a key moment for me and any young people.

So now, I study ‘Public Administration for Journalists’ as part of my degree and I’m learning more about how I can get involved in change whilst learning how politics works as a whole. It’s certainly interesting!

Tomorrow, I will be sharing my thoughts on the EU referendum.

Are you interested in politics? How did you first get involved?

Liam