Tom Watson: Labour’s job is to stop the Conservative government falling

Something you may wish to quote the next time a Labour supporter bemoans how the Liberal Democrats “allowed” David Cameron and the Conservatives to get into power in 2010:

(For supporting material, see the 21 extreme Conservative policies the Lib Dems blocked, the many Lib Dem policies enacted during coalition and just how many manifesto commitments the party kept.)

7 responses to “Tom Watson: Labour’s job is to stop the Conservative government falling”

  1. And the consequence of the 21 extreme Conservative policies the Lib Dems blocked, the many Lib Dem policies enacted during coalition and just how many manifesto commitments the party kept, was a mass exodus of Lib Dem Voters; the annihilation of the Lib Dems in the House of Commons; and the re invigoration of the two party System,

    Which in turn led to a Conservative triumph in 2015; their reintroduction of the policies that actually mattered to them which had been temporarily delayed by us destroying ourselves; the return of urban areas almost entirely to Labour and Brexit.

    And while the most disfunctional Conservative party in history is destroying the coming generation’s future and Labour has reverted to the easy rhetoric of the far left dreamers, the Lib Dems who had spent 50 years building themselves up to be a wedge between them, preventing those extremes coming to the forefront languish at less than 10% in the national polls, with its only strategy being “Building our local government base up once again”.

    So maybe in 20 or 30 years’ time we will be in a position where a Lib Dems leader can survey the desolation of decades of post Brexit decline and say something like “Return to your constituencies and prepare for government.” Then the real hard work can start.

    Mark, your previous post about how voters have returned to identity politics and the moral and social absolutes they embody (i.e. the “I have always been right and am not going to change” philosophy), rather than a more considered, evidence based approach espoused and slowly built up by the Liberal Democrats for decades up to 2010, has arisen because of our disastrous performance in coalition – when we refused to acknowledge what the voters were telling us – that we were making a mess of it.

    I really fear that many Lib Dems, including yourself are now in exactly the same position “We did a great job in coalition. Just look at how many manifesto commitments the party kept. And how many extreme conservative policies we stopped. And how many Lib Dem policies we enacted.”

    or putting it more simply

    “We were right all along and we are not going to change.”

    We won’t turn our party around so it can once again work ‘to build and safeguard a fair, free and open society’ until we do.

    • Even if everything David says were true, it is still fair to point out that Labour would be helping the Tories to bring in the most disastrous policy for our country’s future, an odd role for a party supposed to be in opposition. They are not meant to be in coalition.

      • Sadly Crispin, it is all true and the consequence of it all is that pointing out Labour is helping the Tories would have no effect whatsoever. We have to admit we messed up, change so people will see we have changed and then they might just start to listen to us. Alternatively we can carry on as we are now and simply accept we are happy to continue failing.

        Now we all know people in politics never do that, even when the evidence is against them. However, I really did believe Lib Dems were an evidence based party, but experience has taught me so many of us do not have the courage for that – even when we see the work of 50 years collapsed all around us.

  2. I think the comments by David Evans are interesting and seem to ring true. As a former Labour voter of long standing, I would like to say why I and perhaps others may not have been attracted to vote for the Liberal Democrats in the past.
    I studied history to ‘O’ Level at school, 1815-1914. The study of this period enabled quite a good understanding of the the history which gave rise to the Labour movement. In addition most of us who voted Labour have come from a working background where we felt we fitted best as a Labour voter. I feel now that the old left right party politics has run its course, not really appropriate for the interconnected 21st century world. So my difficulty was, who do I vote for? Brexit is the major issue for the UK and I will support the Liberal Democrats at the moment by voting for them, as I did in the last election. The problem, for me anyway, was that I have never really known what the Lib Dem party really stands for. Perhaps in the past I have thought of it as a kind of inbetween middle class kind of nice party. Now that I have read the piece “What do the Liberal Democrats believe?” I can see how this might promise something more stable than the usual left/right ideology.
    As for mistakes made during the coalition, all governments make mistakes. Look at the Iraq war or the horrendous political situation the UK finds itself in now. Yet, people still vote for parties whose ideology seems to be stuck in the past.

    • Thank you Judith. You make some important points. One key one is your comment about Brexit. I come across a lot of people in your position on the EU and Brexit, but once we have left the EU (and even now we most probably will), I see very little to keep most of them supporting us.

      Also yes, other parties make mistakes in government, but they have a core vote they haven’t betrayed, and they have the courage to elect a leader who represents a change. Both Tim and Vince publicly refused to do this (possibly because they don’t like admitting they let it all happen and did nothing), and hence we are stuck in a time warp. With time rapidly running out.

  3. For me I suspect that many did not Vote Lib-Dem in 2015 because of 1) Lid Dem HQ utterly useless of even informing its members let alone the Public at large of what it had achieved whilst in the Coalition and 2) the sell out on tuition fees.
    I have voted Lib or Lib Dem in the past (roughly early 1970s) because I very much disliked the extremes of the other two parties and will continue to vote Lib Dem now on that basis and because no one else appears to be interested in putting forwards the views of those who did not vote leave in the referendum

  4. Yes Edward, our problem isn’t that you are still voting for us. Our problem is the 4.5 million extra people we need to vote for us now, just to replace those who left us (or alternatively those we left) between 2010 and 2017.

    I don’t see anything to persuade me anyone in authority in the party has a clue how to do that.

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