I feel the Lib Dems have betrayed their own principles and ideology. Those self same principles and ideology that I voted for, although quite why I bothered when I got Conservatives any way even in a supposed coalition I don't know. I feel it is appropriate to put a link in to the Liberal Democrat manifesto because I wonder if any Lib Dem minister or MP has read it lately? The irony that it is published on Nick Clegg's own webpages has not escaped me. For those of us who need reminding (I'm looking at YOU, Nick) these were the four key changes the Lib Dems tempted us with prior to the 2010 General Election:
It turns out it's not just us me who feels things are going very wrong. A recent ICM survey for The Guardian found 51% of respondents who voted Lib Dem in the 2010 General Election felt Nick Clegg was doing a bad job but even more concerning is that of those same respondents a huge 80% felt that by the end of 2012 Britain will be a more divided country (next highest were those who voted Labour with 65% believing the country will be more divided). Not that I expect that will bother the Lib Dems as much as this little nugget of information: of those surveyed who voted Lib Dem in the last General Election just 15% would vote Lib Dem again if a new election was called in their area. To put that into context the same survey found 71% of those who voted Labour in the last election would do so again and 66% of Conservative voters would do so again. Nick, you should be worried.
So I think it's about time we stopped blaming Tories for being Tories and started looking at those who are enabling them to push through these cuts that will hurt people and do terrible, irreparable damage to our Welfare State. That's you lot, Nick and Co and this is my top (or should that be bottom??) seven Lib Dems who've lost the love of their traditional voters, the respect of ordinary people and incurred my ire:
7. Paul Burstow MP, Minister of State for the Department of Heath is one of the good guys. Or at least he was. He has long been a champion of carers and the elderly and his previous voting record shows he voted strongly against NHS foundation hospitals in the past but this year he voted for the Health and Social care bill including increased private-sector involvement in the NHS. I had high hopes for him and I think he can still exert influence, particularly as he is the Lib Dem Chief Whip and his voting on the Welfare Reform Bill has shown he still has a conscience, but Paul you have to do something!
6. Rt Hon Chris Huhne MP, Secretary of State for Energy and Climate Change has in the past chaired the Lib Dem Public Services Policy Commission covering health and education so one would expect him to be a little more sympathetic to the plight of the sick, the disabled and the need for free education but it seems his voting record shows his priorities lie elsewhere. One has only to read yesterday's blog post about fuel poverty to know things are not alright.
5. Lynne Featherstone MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State (Minister for Equalities) for the Home Office is supposedly the minister for women. This will be the same women who are bearing the brunt of the cuts then. The same women The Fawcett Society has seen fit to launch legal challenges on behalf of and who they describe as being subject to a "triple jeopardy":
1. Women will be hit hardest by job cuts in the public sector
2. Women will be hit hardest as the services and benefits they use more are cut
3. Women will be left ‘filling the gaps’ as state services are withdrawn
Nice work Lynne. Really great job. She also makes the list because the PR at her press office got very funny and refused to speak to me when I called up to ask why redundancy figures in 2009 did not show how many women had been made redundant and how many were made redundant after taking maternity leave. To date my emailed question (the preferred form of communication for people who ask questions about women to the Women's Minister) is still unanswered. Gold star for the patriarchy Lynne. Truly.
4. Danny Alexander MP, Chief Secretary to the Treasury and scourge of the Trade Unions when it comes to public sector pensions. You may be surprised he's not closer to number 1 on my list but my final four are much of a muchness really, I feel they've all sold out their principles to a greater or lesser extent. Danny Alexander pisses me off because I don't approve of changing the terms of employment contracts (including pensions) after the deal has been agreed. I say that having worked all my life in the private sector but I have the luxury of packing up and going somewhere else and renegotiating my employment contract. Not so easy when you're a teacher, adult education lecturer, a nurse or a career civil servant. Plus he's voted for privatisation of our schools by the back door (free schools) and increasing tuition fees having enjoyed free higher education at Oxford University for himself.
3. Sarah Teather MP, Minister of State for the Department for Education is supposedly the Minister of State for Children and Families. I say supposedly because Sure Start is going, early intervention services are going and the whole thing is a bloody mess and bears no resemblance to those lofty election promises. It's also personal with Sarah. I was working in Brent when she got elected as an MP for Brent East. At the time there was huge optimism and hope. She was the youngest MP, and a woman. She really seemed to care, she spoke sense. I liked her. I admired her. Now, I pity her. I pity her because I don't know if she has consciously sacrificed her principles and morals on the altar of "being in government" or if it has slipped away and she is unaware that she has turned to the dark side. Either way, Sarah, it is you I am most disappointed in because I had the highest hopes for you. Your lower profile is the only reason you're not sitting in the number one spot.
2. Vince Cable MP, Secretary of State for Business, Innovation and Skills Vince, Vince, Vince. Where did it all go so wrong? In 2008 we hung off every word you spoke about the economy. We trusted you were sensible and honest. Now you are sidelined, an embarrassment and an apologist. Your comments about Murdoch should have been applauded and trumpeted but instead it feels like you spend half your life with Clegg's hand over your mouth lest you say anything that upsets Dave's friends. Meanwhile Osborne continues to hack away at all that is great and good and you mutter quietly from the side lines, your principles abandoned, both moral and economic. You are a shadow of what you could have been.
1. Rt Hon Nick Clegg MP, Deputy Prime Minister Where to start? Nick you have sold us out. Not just Lib Dem voters but all those who are unable to have a voice: children, the sick, the elderly, the disabled, the frail, the vulnerable, the uneducated. This is why you are number one. You are number one because you have sold your soul for a courtesy title and you sit back and do nothing. Nothing while society's most vulnerable are being made to suffer more. Nothing while good, honest hard working people are squeezed more and more. Nothing except make some murmurs about Europe. Well frankly that's not good enough. You need to remember what the Liberal Democrats stand for. What they are about. There's a link further up this piece to the manifesto. It's on your own website so really there is no excuse for not knowing what you promised. Nick, to be frank, you suck.
So, Liberal Democrat party listen up. I'm your core demographic of white, middle class, educated, middle England-y folk. Historically we've been told a vote for the Lib Dems is a wasted vote. I didn't used to believe that was true but now I do. If I give you my precious vote (of which I only get one so I have to make it count) I believe you will squander it and we as a country will get the same result whichever party I give it to: a self-interested, self-serving government who is beholden to the bankers and big business at the expense of everyone else. In short, a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for apathy and tacit consent to the butchering of all that is great and good. Your support for the Welfare Reform Bill and Health and Social Care Bill makes me and others like me despair. Please think again. Forget Europe, look closer to home at the real suffering your actions are causing and remember your election promises.
What can you do? You can take action by signing live petitions on our petitions page, check up on your MP's voting record at http://www.theyworkforyou.com/ or email the Liberal Democrat party directly to tell them your thoughts.