“All it takes for evil to thrive is for good men to do nothing.”
As those who abstained on the Welfare Bill know, in the modern paradigm abstention on legislation is tantamount to a vote for legislation. The idea that the Liberal leader didnt vote for the most liberal thing the Tories have done in the last 7 years is nothing short of perverse. That’s a bad start to any Liberal leader’s CV.
Worse than even that has been his performance as leader of the LibDems, the party Charlie Kennedy once lead so magnificently. It would seem insane for the Liberal Democrats to think they could run an election campaign by telling 52% of the electorate : “you are all racist knuckledraggers” in an effort to capitalise from the situation they helped to cause by letting the Tories in to promise a referendum on the E.U. in the first place.
Political insanity coupled with electoral oblivion is the Lib Dems party trick. Their General Election campaign had them fail to win a single seat back in Cornwall – despite the fact the non Tory vote is far larger than the Tory vote, the Lib Dems failed to win a single seat.
Farron would claim their history in government still haunts them. And he would be right.
In 2010 the Lib Dems joined David Cameron & Gideon George Osborne in claiming Gordon Brown had crashed the entire global economy by spending too much on schools and hospitals in the UK. The Liberal Democrats under Nick Clegg helped Dodgy Dave double our National debt.
They did this whilst tripling student tuition fees and selling the Royal Mail for peanuts because the bankers who paid themselves bonuses out of our taxes advised Vince Cable to sell off our National Asset on the cheap.
Vince Cable’s own report said they undervalued the initial sale. Saying the Royal Mail is worth less now that it has been run down, chopped up and sold off is in no way a defence of the Lib Dems :
“The government made £180m less from the £2bn sale of Royal Mail than it could have, a report commissioned by Business Secretary Vince Cable has said.
It says shares could have been valued up to 30p more than the flotation price of 330p because of the high level of demand from banks and individuals.”
Had the Liberal Democrats not put the weak Neo Liberal, heirs to Blair faction of the Tories into power in 2010, the Tories would never have been in the position they are in today : desperately using first the EU Referendum and now Brexit to lurch right, fail to steal UKIP’s support, and try to scrabble and keep their place in government.
In light of all that, in so many ways the Liberal Democrats are exactly why we are where we are today – compromised principles, compromised promises & a compromised party. Some would say, in Farron’s defence, that he only abstained on the Gay Marriage bill.