From “Clegg-mania” to “Clegg-pneumonia” as the veteran labour MP from Sheffield, David Blunkett put it, rather unpleasantly, Deputy PM Nick Clegg and the Lib-Democrats have come far from their high days just a year ago and don’t seem very healthy.
With seemingly unpopular decisions on cutting public spending were being made by the government, poor performance by the two ruling parties, in the local elections wouldn’t have been a surprise. But interestingly the Conservatives managed to do pretty well and it was their coalition partners who took the blow, in fact it was their worst performance since the party was formed.
So, what really went wrong for the Lib-Dems? Tories promised immediate cuts in government spending if they came to power while the Lib-Dems and Labour argued that such cuts would hinder economic development. But, after the elections Nick’s “compromises” contradicted what he fought for so passionately during the campaign. Economy being the key issue, Lib-Dem’s sudden change in policy of supporting immediate cuts to curb the budget deficit was not well received by many grassroot Lib-Dem activists. But the biggest highlight was the tuition fees U-turn.
While, the Lib-Dems could be easily accused of sell out, the Tories have stuck to their core policies. Tory voters expected them to make tough, un-popular decisions and they have more or less delivered. The Lib-Dems have, on the other hand, gone against their mandate. Some argue that a coalition is about compromises. But, supporting and working for something, you have opposed is simply seen as hypocrisy. Unfortunately, for Nick Clegg, this has resulted in a loss of trust.
There was still hope for Lib-Dems through AV. But that too has shattered. While, David Cameroon is the winner of the coalition agreement all hope is not lost for the Lib-Dems. Ed Milliband doesn’t seem to be another Tony Blair and his weaknesses might very well be Nick Clegg’s lifeline in 2015.