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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  • paulus

    Any fair minded person would accept David Laws explaination, conservatives are not philistines, lets not harp on about this its demeaning, we can all accept his explaination, its petty to not.

  • albertcooper

    More smarm from action man ! with Clegg an excellent henceman !

  • anyfool

    Mark Oaten was when a rent boy recognised him.

    Will the rest of them be forced to eat excrement or will it be a voluntary dive into the sewers where these people belong.

    That these people can still be leading in Eastleigh is a sad reflection on the people there, but the biggest dollop of ordure should surely go to the Tories who barring a late surge will be scrambling around trying to win second place to save face.

    So far the only redeeming feature of this by election is the apparent collapse of Labour.

    I Suppose if the Tories cannot win then hopefully UKIP can show them how to fight an election and win.

    • Makroon

      Labour voters decamping en masse to UKIP for a bit of tactical stirring then ?

      • David Lindsay

        Whatever the result at Eastleigh, very little can be gleaned from a by-election in a constituency so, literally, eccentric that it has elected a Lib Dem MP five times in a row. Such a place exists altogether outside the electoral mainstream. That makes it interesting in its own way. But only in its own way.

        The treatment of UKIP as a major party by the media is something of which it ought to be thoroughly wary. The Greens, with an MP and with far more Councillors, including control of a Council, are not treated like that. UKIP is being co-opted. And Farage is allowing it to be. The rest of his party needs to ask why. It will. If it has any existence apart from his personality.

        If Danny Stupple does finish top of the rest, then there will be the man whom Labour ought to have approached. The National Executive Committee can have anyone it likes to contest a by-election. Although I expect (I could be wrong) that he has previously identified as a Tory, his campaign website marks him as vaguely left-of-Blair economically.

        Alas, his Evangelical Anglican church, which I am told is quite normal for that neck of the woods as I am told that it also would be in Kent, seems fully signed up to the late and aberrant theory of Christian Zionism. It probably does not know that Arab nationalism and the modern concept of Filastin both arose among Christian students at American Protestant missionary universities well before the denominations in question adopted the liberal theology that could not have produced them.

        Nor that the Anglican community which makes up a significant proportion
        of Christians in today’s Jerusalem is of a rather Conservative Evangelical persuasion, having arisen with a view to Reforming the existing Catholics and Orthodox. That latter lack of awareness is particularly odd and disappointing in view of the recent Jerusalem Declaration. If you need to, then give it a Google.

        But such things can be contained, especially these days. Stupple’s main objection is to the same-sex “marriage” that Labour never sought to introduce and on which it granted a free vote when the present lot tried to do it, as that lot has still yet to see through to conclusion.

        Among the Labour abstainers were two Shadow Ministers, both of whom remain in post and will be Ministers after 2015, who are active Evangelical Protestants, who would certainly vote against Third Reading in the extremely unlikely event that this Bill ever made it that far, and one of whom is the only Pentecostal pastor in Parliament. Labour and Respect are known to be fighting it out to recruit the pastors of the black churches as candidates in many urban areas.

        If the combined vote for Labour and for Danny Stupple is greater than that for the next candidate up, then it will be perfectly clear what ought to have been done, and what ought to be done next time, in order to capture this admittedly unusual seat.

        When I blogged all of this last night, Danny Stupple retweeted the link to it. Whoever runs Labour in the Deep South, take note.

        • Chris lancashire

          Too long, too boring.

          • David Lindsay

            Not aimed at you.

        • adam_01

          An unfortunate analysis concentrating too much on Stupple’s religion, but nonetheless reflects at the beginning on his broad appeal. I expect a retained deposit from him given you say he is a good campaigner. As others say, media rules, however.

          • Mike Smithson

            Let’s hope that Stupple does top the rest of the field. I’m on him to do that at 14/1

  • Noa

    Didn’t Mark Oaten also like chocolate bars/

  • In2minds

    I can remember Fry’s Five Boys Chocolate, so what has happened to the
    other three, nothing untoward I hope?