14 May 2010

The strange death of the Lib Dems?

The Labour Party is currently reporting a surge in new members since the coalition was formed - including a large number of disaffected Lib Dems. Interestingly, the Lib Dems are also reporting some (net) increase in numbers. So there could be a lot of people out there who like the idea of the coalition and want to do something to help. Or, these could be entryists of some kind wanting to wreck it. At this stage it's impossible to say.

If this coalition arrangement does work out - and that's a big if - one thing we might see is a Tory/Lib Dem merger down the line. Which would be a huge coup for Cameron, as he would have succeeded in moving the membership power base away from the extreme right with lots of new socially and economically liberal types - the sort of people the Guardian's Julian Glover likes to eulogise - brought in.

More accurately it'd probably be half a merger because the other half would have upped and joined Labour or the Greens some time before then. Leaving - what exactly, in the middle of British politics?

Maybe nothing at all. That's right kids, we could be back to 2-party politics, last seen in its purest form in the UK around 1970 or thereabouts. If that happens, a 2015 election where both Labour and the Tories get over 40% of the vote each - again, last seen in 1970 - could be on the cards.

My guess is that a rump Liberal Democrat party - the true believers in Third Force Politics - will persist even if the party does disintegrate along the lines I suggest. Does anyone remember the "Old Liberals" or "splinter Liberals", otherwise known as The Liberal Party? These guys are fantastic. Their logo is straight out of a Co-op supermarket ad from 1973 or so. They had a party political broadcast a few years back (may have been 1997 or 2001) which consisted of a couple of guys sitting at a trestle table telling it like it is. Old Skool! We need more of this in British politics.

As parties split, merge and shift over the years, they do seem to leave a snakeskin train of detritus behind them. As my mate Clarkey pointed out to me there is also a splinter SDP complete with the original 1981 logo. Their main policy commitment seems to be to leave the EU - ironic, given that one of the reasons the SDP was formed was that Labour wanted to leave the EU in the early 1980s. What goes around comes around.

Extraordinarily, Veritas, whom I last blogged about in the 2005 election, still seem to be going in some shape or form. I didn't even know Kilroy was still alive...

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