Are there any words in the English language more soporific or depressing than: ‘Liberal Democrat Party Conference’?
My paucity of blogs in the last few days can be put down solely to this fact. Even the many fascinating and disturbing things occurring in the world are somehow made damp by the knowledge that this annual general meeting of the bogus is going on.
I suppose it comes down to one thing in particular. There is simply no purpose in the Liberal Democrats. There never has been. It is just a collection of people who for various reasons – understandable dislike of the other parties, hilarious opportunism or simple ignorance – wandered into a party and then tried to agree on what the people they find themselves among could be said to agree on or believe in.
Each speaker assumes that register now adopted by almost all politicians – a tone no human being ever naturally employed. It is something like the voice of a parent trying to persuade a child that the child is making a decision for itself when it is all the time apparent that the parent is making the decision for them. Nick Clegg and colleagues each seem to assume that if they only give that little bit of extra emphasis – of hand gesture or intonation – the people will understand and vote for them in hordes.
What they cannot address (because if they ever did their careers would end) is the fact that there is no point in them. All we are left with is a charade, in which rich and privileged men like Ming Campbell and Vince Cable, for instance, pretend that there is some vast difference between them and the Conservatives (claiming they themselves are ‘plebs’ and so on). None of it rings even remotely true.
The only bright spot is that after 2015 these conferences will be historical curios. Then Nick Clegg can take his place somewhere in the second rank of Liberal leaders, in front of Paddy Ashdown and somewhere behind Jeremy Thorpe.