We believed, perhaps a little over-optimistically that the British people would understand the difference between compromise and betrayal says Paddy Ashdown after a night of fierce defeat for the LibDems in local elections up and down the country. We have yet to see any referendum results, but the omens do not look good. The party's eighty-year dream of electoral reform looks like remaining excatly that.
The Coalition agreement generously awarded fully 70% of the LibDem's election manifesto and an estimated 60% of the Tory one. Not only were 59 LibDem MP's openly welcomed into every department of state as fully integrated Coalition partners - whilst many of the 312 Conservative MP's had to put ministerial careers on hold - a 'quad', comprising both Nick Clegg and Danny Alexander, was set up to scrutinise all legislation before the Coalition made any policy committments. This, as with so many other inclusive and fully collegiate measures directly reflected the way this Liberal Conservative Coaltion was to be conducted. As well as destroying Labour's 'thick of it' macho political culture, the LibDems are given respect. Their views are valued. Their policies given far more weight than their numbers would suggest.
So when the junior, seemingly more progressive partner, is destroyed by the electorate whilst the major partner actually gains councillors, you have to ask why. To be continued...
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