Friday, January 06, 2006

My thoughts on the Lib Dem leadership debate

The real problem with the Lib Dems is not Charles Kennedy, it's not the drink problem, the slightly clumsy image or even the ginger hair. It's the direction of the party itself and the electoral system that it finds itself in. The real truth is that in the last few years have seen Britain plunged into political situations which should be gold dust for the Lib Dems - a deaf, blind, one-legged monkey should be creating gains for the Lib Dems in the current poltiical climate. However, whilst people may agree with the sentiments being laid down by the Lib Dems, the electorate doesn't think that the Lib Dems stand any chance of making any changes; so at the last election they swung back the Tories or decided to stick it out with Blair and the Labour party. People seem quite happy to vote Lib Dem locally, where they know that Lib Dems can and do win - those votes do not translate on a national scale.

Which leads me to one of two conclusions; either the electorate either doesn't care about what the government does, and are quite happy to have their liberties taken away and join unfounded foreign wars, or it does care, but realises that little can be done about it. Considering the strength of public protest over the last few years, I don't think it's that people care - but when it comes down to it, they don't take the plunge and back the party when it could make a difference. The thing is, everyone knows that if they actually voted Lib Dem rather than just talking about voting Lib Dem, the party's backing would sky-rocket. But it's kind of a prisoner dilemma - it only works if everybody else votes Lib Dem too, and there's no guarentee anyone is going to do that.

And then there's the party, which seems to currently be tied up in some vendetta against Kennedy desite the fact that he is so popular with the electorate. Maybe instead of infighting, they could be coming up with new policy, and thinking about the real issues behind why the party aren't doing as well as they should be - a new leader might put them on a temporary high, and might gain some votes if they turn out to be particularly charismatic, but at the polls it will be policy that dictates where the tick is going. And the name of the party, but that goes back to the whole 'two-party' which I've already talked about.

So the big question is, will changing the party leader actually make a difference? I don't think it will. I think the Lib Dems problems are much bigger, and much more fundamental than that.

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