17 April 2013

Lib Dem defamation u-turn farce

Yesterday Lib Dem MPs were going to support Conservative amendments to the Defamation Bill designed to protect large corporation's ability to threaten individuals with punative libel damages.  A party spokesman gave the Independent a bizarre quote, “Unfortunately we are in a Coalition and this was one of those areas where we could not get our Conservative colleagues to agree with us.”

Today Lib Dem Voice reports that Julian Huppert has pursuaded Conservative Ministers to put back in the bill the clauses that Lib Dem MPs voted to take out 24 hours earlier,

If this was an isolated incident of elbowarseitis then it probably wouldn't matter.  But it's not.  It follows in footsteps of Lib Dem MPs backing for secret courts in the teeth of opposition from the party (and manifesto commitments) and the internet snooping farce - which is soon to make an unwelcome return.

It is clear there are a cadre of advisers at the top of the party with a tin-ear for the key tenets of party beliefs and who take whatever nonsense the civil service tells them as gospel.  And they are allowed to get away with it by MPs who are enjoying the trappings of power too much and have suspended both their critical faculties and belief in the political nous of the party.

There were always going to be difficult decisions as a result of entering coalition with the Tories - but Clegg's strategy always was to use the experience of government as a platform to win new support - 'Clegg Lib Dems'.  So far all that has happened is that a large chunk of the party has been so disillusioned by MPs support for illiberal measures it has drifted off, preceded by many 2010 Lib Dem voters and much of the party's councillor base.  And so far there is precious little evidence of them being replaced by these 'Clegg Lib Dems'. 

Without significant change in attitudes (and almost certainly personnel) at the top of the party - there will be precious few left to fight the election in 2015.  Further seat losses in the county elections (and particularly slipping behind UKIP in the popular vote) will take the party one stage closer to the point where it ceases to be able to function as any sort of election fighting force.  The question is will what's left of the party allow that to continue?

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