Here is a genuine quote from a member of the Liberal Democrats on last night’s BBC Newsnight and it tells you a hell of a lot about why the country’s in the mess that it’s in now.
“We want to be in coalition with the party with the values nearest to us … and that varies”!
Staggering isn’t it? The Lib Dems spend a few days in Birmingham announcing their opposition to Tory policies after having spent months walking through the voting lobbies of Parliament supporting those same policies. Policies which have included the passing of the Act which has allowed the changing of the electoral boundaries.
On the face of it, reducing the Commons from 650 MPs to 600 and equalising the size of constituencies sounds like a reasonable thing to do. Saves money after all. Of course that means the number of people each MP has to represent goes up on average. And that means less time per voter for the MP to spend on casework. That means a greater strain on the MP and less effective representation for the constituent. And the Lib Dems, desperate to be able to say they’re modernising politics, trooped through the aye lobby to make sure it happened.
But that’s not the worst part of it. That was only the first part of the legislation. It’s phase 2 that is worse for the country and just plain silly for the Lib Dems. Because phase 2 removes the legal obligation of voters to co-operate with the electoral registrar. It moves the onus from government to the individual. Meaning it replaces household registration with individual registration as well as removing any legal obligation to co-operate with the Electoral Officer.
That may sound like gobbledygook, but it is reckoned that it will remove 10% of electors in rural constituencies and up to 30% from urban seats. That’s not great for democracy, but it’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem comes down the line. Boundary reviews are calculated using the numbers of registered voters in a given constituency. So, a few years from now, the next review will be based on electoral registers with 10 million voters wiped from them. And those boundaries will massively favour the Tories, wiping out the Liberal Democrats and making it very difficult for Labour to win a majority. And still the Lib Dems support it, like lemmings over the cliff.
The Liberal Democrats come out of their conference in Birmingham with a narrative that goes along the lines of ‘The Tories are evil. Labour messed up the world economy. We’re, er, er, other people’. And all the while the Tories are arranging their destruction like the evil empire in a galaxy far, far away.
I can’t decide whether the Liberal Democrats are incredibly naïve or incredibly stupid though neither is doing the country much good right now.