Friday, June 12, 2009

Third Party Failure

Much has been made about the slipping of Labour to third place in a national election. Yet the surprising success of UKIP ahead of Labour also shows the drastic failing of another party – the Liberal Democrats.

The Liberal Democrats should be doing well in the current climate, yet they are floundering badly. It isn’t just about the expenses debacle; their MPs have been troughing, but nowhere near as bad as the worst examples of the triumphant Tories. And they should be beating the Labour party, rather than leaving it to UKIP who were, until just before this election, a dead party walking. So why this failure?

I’m sure he is a nice guy, but their problem is Nick Clegg. He doesn’t say anything, he doesn’t do anything. His strategy – if he has one – seems to be to wait until success comes to him. But he seems to be incapable of doing anything to make it happen. He doesn’t exploit Labour weaknesses, or the paucity of Tory policy. He doesn’t create an identity for his party, or set his party up as the non-racist alternative for a protest vote for those who can't stomach the BNP. He comes across as mute, and without any sort of grasp of how politics works. He has been a disaster for the Liberal Democrats.

And such is the genius, for want of a better word, of Nick Clegg that no-one notices how bad he is. He is burying his party slowly but surely, but it is completely under the radar as no-one notices his poor performance as everyone is entranced by the long slow car crash of the Brown premiership.

This failure is fine with me; I don’t care if the Liberal Democrats disappear off the face of the earth. But Liberal Democrats everywhere need to seriously think about what the lack of leadership from Clegg is doing their future prospects. The repugnant greed of our MPs has created a feeling of anti-politics and a lust for small parties; unless the Liberal Democrats get their finger out and start vying to be the alternative to Labour and the Tories, they are going to be swept away. At the rate things are going, there is a real danger that the Liberal Democrats will be a rump of a party after the next election, wondering what went so wrong, and remembering with fondness the good old days under Charles Kennedy.

Labour will survive having an atrocious leader, and the Tories survived having more than one. A third party reliant on the febrile support of the protest vote can survive having a poor leader, but they won’t survive one who just can’t lead at all…

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At 1:06 pm , Blogger James Higham said...

The problem is indeed Nick Clegg. The third party area is splintered.


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