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Coffee House

The Lib Dems are paying the price for their time in opposition

28 February 2013

5:27 PM

28 February 2013

5:27 PM

The Liberal Democrats have been beset by scandal in government. First there was the resignation of David Laws. Then there was the whole Chris Huhne business. And now there’s Lord Rennard and his alleged activities and the question of what the party hierarchy knew about them. But one thing unites all these stories: they all happened when the Liberal Democrats were in opposition. Indeed, no Liberal Democrat has yet had to resign for anything they’ve done in government.

Their problem, as I say in the magazine this week, is that they are now paying the price for all the things they did when there was very little scrutiny on them. I doubt that either Labour or the Tories would have got away with an election pledge which was so clearly unafforadable as the tuition fees one. Equally, no Labour or Tory Home Affairs spokesman would have been shocked when someone knew them from the TV – but Mark Oaten was when a rent boy recognised him.

The Liberal Democrats are hoping that a victory in Eastleigh today will enable them to move the news agenda on. But Clegg must hope that there isn’t more embarrassment to come from his party’s past.

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