Coffee House

The Lib Dems could go from being the ‘nice party’ to the ‘nasty party’

11 March 2014

1:22 PM

11 March 2014

1:22 PM

Danny Alexander managed to please Ed Balls at Treasury Questions today by revealing that he wasn’t opposed to the Shadow Chancellor’s call for the Office for Budget Responsibility to audit the spending pledges made in an opposition party’s manifesto. He told the Commons:

‘I think this is an idea well worth further consideration, Mr Speaker. What I’d be worried about in taking it forward is the pressure it would place on the Office for Budget Responsibility, which is a new organisation that’s only recently taken on responsibility for forecasting the public finances. I’d worry that in the first election when they have those responsibilities this function might be difficult for them to carry through but I do think it’s an idea that is well worthy of debate because of course the British people need to know that what every party says is what it means. I’d suggest respectfully to the Shadow Chancellor, Mr Speaker, that spending a bank bonus tax ten times over doesn’t meet that test.’


George Osborne was away today, but he has made his opposition to this idea very clear. But that last sentence in Alexander’s response is designed to highlight that he’s not differentiating away from the Tories and towards Labour: he wanted to be clear that he still views Labour as profligate.

But this raises a very interesting point to mull about a possible Lib-Lab coalition after 2015. Some Lib Dem members might feel as though they’ve come home if their party does go into government with Labour. But the practice of differentiation would arguably be more difficult for the Lib Dems if they were governing with Labour. If you look at the big dividing lines that Nick Clegg has set up with both parties, which are that ‘Labour would wreck the recovery’ and ‘the Conservatives would give us the wrong kind of recovery’, you can see that forging a separate identity from the latter party is rather more pleasant than the first. If you’re the party that repeatedly pushes for fairness in government and blocks mean cuts, as the Lib Dems want to say they’ve been doing with the Conservatives, then you’re the nice party. But if you’re the party that repeatedly has to block Labour spending too much, then you’re the tight-fisted party that stops the government spending more money on nice appealing things like new school buildings and giveaways. The Lib Dems might become useful cover for a Labour government that is trying to make cuts that are opposed by its own backbenchers. But it would be an interesting shift from being the nice party to the tough, frugal one.

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Show comments
  • Monkey_Bach

    Liberal Democrat Party ≈ Conservative Party = Nasty Party

  • well_chuffed

    ffs , they have always been the nasty party and I’m not sure anyone ever thought they were nice. Their appeal was that they were not Labour or Conservative but now that little delusion has been shattered , what are they now other than just plain nasty.

  • global city

    The Lib Dems have long been a truly nasty party… go and ask some of the Militant thugs who were out-scummed by them in the Liverpool political scene.

    Too many journos over too many years have enabled the Lib Dems to get away with pretending they were the ‘Nice’ party. This is still going on as the MSM idiots undertake their Pavlovian hunt of UKIP instead.

    Do some investigations Isabel!

  • 2trueblue

    The LibDums will be reduced in the next general election and that will change the political landscape. The next time we have the pre election debate we would do well to remember that a cloak of respectability does not deliver much in itself . Clegg did very well in the debate, and since entering into the coalition has not turned up to vote very often in parliament, and has a strong anti-British bias. It has been a disaster for the Tories and the sooner that is made clear the better. Clegg really wants to be in the European Parliament and we need to get him out of British politics.

    Cameron has to state that he would not enter into a coalition again as it has tarnished him and his party. The tail has wagged the dog too much and been allowed to bark far too often. Too late now to try and control the pesky thing, best to draw the line and stand up for the rest of us. The thing is does Cameron get it?

  • RavenRandom

    The Lib Dems… nasty turncoats.

  • Andy

    If you have ever had anything to do with the LibDums you would know perfectly well that they are a nasty evil bunch.

  • Colonel Mustard

    Ghastly party of thinly disguised socialists fit for nothing, whose so-called liberalism is a sham and who seem to be more enemies than champions of democracy.

    The only hope is that a Brownian Labour rump allied in a government with the EU’s answer to Anton Mussert would finally test British national socialism to destruction and result in genuine uprising by the English people. If anyone deserves a Spring in this God-forsaken country they do.

    • Kitty MLB

      The Lib Dems are no more then political women of the night,
      difference being the women might have some standards.

      • Wessex Man

        that deserves far more than the one up tick I can give you!

      • Rossspeak

        Also possible that one could enjoy being in bed with a woman of the night – which is more than can be said for the Tories being in bed with the Libdems ( although the activities could be said to amount to the same thing).

  • Kitty MLB

    The Lib Dems were never nice just hid behind friendly little
    fluffy woodland creature image.

    • global city

      They have the operational approach of the SWP to opponents…and they’re ruthless.

  • amicus

    They already are the nasty party. They have never been the nice party.

  • Donafugata

    The Lib-dems was never a nice party.

  • Wessex Man

    I’ve laid a bet that the Liberal Democrats will be reduced to single figure representation in the Parliament elected in 2015. They are no things to no men and will be even more exposed after the Clegg/Farage debate.

    Hopefully they will carry on believing they are an electable force and change nothing in their approaching annihilation!

    • Denis_Cooper

      Could happen. A quick go on the Electoral Calculus prediction facility says that they could slip into single figures at about 8% support, which is less than 2% below where they are now. Fingers crossed on that.