I was hoping to write a nice post about how my campaign went in Newcastle North. I had funny tales to tell. Like the naked voter in Dinnington or the woman in West Denton who said she’d voted last week. On Facebook. Stories of dogs the size of horses, shoes worn through, Lib Dems spending thousands of pounds having leaflets delivered. Really poor leaflets. Stories of friends and comradeship. Fun and laughter. Fighters and believers.
Instead, I’m stuck here writing about a handful of members of a party whom 15% of the population voted for deciding who the next Prime Minister will be. The new politics that everyone has shouted about basically consists of deals being made in the back rooms of Westminster. Which is awfully like the old politics.
Nick Clegg started off by saying he was sticking to his principles and would be asking for Proportional Representation immediately, among other things. Now Simon Hughes has just been on Newsnight saying they were looking for
“political reform rather than electoral reform”
That’s not what they were saying before the meetings started. There’s been a subtle shifting in position. A drifting towards the Conservative Party. This afternoon, I flicked over to BBC News to see the headlines. I found Laura Kuensberg standing outside the Local Government Association building in Smith Square. It turns out the Lib Dem MPs were holding a meeting in there because their own headquarters is not big enough. All was standard. Kuensberg was planning to witter for five minutes about how little anyone knew about anything while her camera operator filmed the exterior of the building as if there would be some answers in the Palladian architecture.
Then a protest came trundling around the corner. One of the most middle-class protests ever. Everyone in purple, pie-charts on their placards, and chanting “What do we want? A fairer voting system. When do we want it? Before the markets open on Monday”. They then shouted that they wanted Clegg to speak to them. Of course, Nick obliged. He couldn’t do anything else really. He made one of the blandest statements ever about getting into politics to create change. The protesters were completely mollified by this and promptly left. It was a bit poor really. Clegg is clearly moving toward a deal with Cameron. One they’ve probably been discussing for a couple of weeks. And one which will inevitably involve the Liberal Democrats propping up a Conservative government while getting very little in return. Lib Dem voters are already complaining. Already changing support to Labour. Already thinking about their next vote. It’s a little sad to contemplate. People who should have a political ideology, a set of core beliefs, willing to trade them in for a seat at the table.
Don’t do it Nick. You’ll tear your party apart for a few months in power.