I’ve had a migraine for the last couple of days, so NaBoWriFoNi might actually become NaBoWriFifteenOrSixteenDays, unless I can get a couple of ten thousand word days in (entirely possible – I have next week off work, though tomorrow is busy between the Yes stall and the new Doctor Who episode…). However, I can do angry political rants even when I’ve got a migraine (funny that).
I was planning to write this yesterday, and then I read this by Jennie, which says a lot of what I want to say.
What I do want to say is this:
I AM UTTERLY, ABSOLUTELY, SICK OF PEOPLE TELLING ME THE LIB DEMS ARE NOT MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN GOVERNMENT.
The story that seems to have taken hold is ‘evil Judas Nick Clegg betrayed his promise to the British people to support Labour (the Only Rightful Government) no matter what, and instead sold his party’s soul for the promise of a referendum, AND NO OTHER CONCESSIONS AT ALL, which he’s going to lose because I hate him hate him hate him!’
This is, simply, a lie.
You may dislike the current government – I do (though I am less unhappy with it than I have been with any government in my lifetime, except the first few months of the Blair government when I was giving them a chance). You may think that the party’s leadership has handled things ridiculously badly for the last few months. I do – and so do some of our MPs – though I’d point out that they handled things ludicrously *well* when it really mattered, in May. You may be angry about some of the concessions we’ve had to make – I am. I twice came close to tearing up my membership card (over the ridiculous fudges over control orders and child detention), and it’s still entirely possible that we’ll cross some red line over the next four years that causes me to do so. All of these are defensible positions.
But to say that the Lib Dems have got nothing in return… well… that’s true.
Apart from the AV referendum, the first chance of significant constitutional change in my lifetime.
Apart from fixed term parliaments, a demand of reformers since the Chartists
Apart from legalising civil partnerships in churches
Apart from stopping hundreds of thousands of the lowest-paid workers (3 million by the end of this Parliament) from having to pay income tax, paid for by tax rises on the rich
Apart from preventing gay people being extradited to countries where they face persecution or even death
Apart from reducing the amount of time someone can be held without trial from 28 days to 14
Apart from equal marriage for same sex couples (coming soon, that one)
Apart from removing the criminal records from men who had consensual sex with other men when that was illegal, allowing them to no longer be treated as sex offenders
Apart from the Universal Credit – which used to be party policy but was dropped for being a ridiculously utopian left-wing idea we could never actually get through, and is now being implemented by one of the most right-wing politicians in the country
Apart from restoring the earnings link for pensions which Thatcher got rid of
Apart from stopping the Tories from cutting Housing Benefit by 10% after a year
Apart from removing innocent people’s records from the database of criminals’ DNA
Apart from getting rid of the ludicrous ID Card scheme
Apart from ensuring we won’t replace Trident this Parliament
Apart from a proportionally-elected upper chamber (coming soon, but definitely coming)
Apart from bringing in a fairer student fees system than the one we did have *or* the one Labour were advocating *or* the NUS were calling for (yes, yes, it’s not as good as our policy. If you’d voted for us maybe we could have brought in our policy. As it is, we did the best we could and will *still* pay for it for decades to come).
Apart from stopping people from having to have a CRB check before they do any kind of work with children
Well, yeah, there’s nothing the Lib Dems have done in government…
Apart from raising Capital Gains tax so the rich are paying closer to the amount the poor pay in tax (still not as much, but a lot more than they were).
Apart from shared parental leave
Apart from protecting the NHS from Andrew Lansley
Apart from spending an extra £400 million on mental health services, reversing the trend which had seen Labour destroy two hospital beds a day, every day, during its entire thirteen years in government, for this most vulnerable group.
Apart from a right to recall MPs guilty of misconduct
Apart from a ban on fingerprinting schoolchildren without their parents’ permission
Apart from a referendum to increase the powers of the Welsh Assembly
Well, yeah, I guess there’s nothing else they’ve done, is there?
Apart from the pupil premium – extra money for the poorest schoolchildren
Apart from scrapping ContactPoint
Apart from stopping the Tories from selling off our forests
Apart from increasing funding for talking therapies so that where only 60% of the country can access them currently (still an improvement on last year) 100% will be able to by 2014
Apart from opening the Government Art Collection to the public
Apart from giving a week’s respite to people who have to care for sick relatives
Apart from a judicial inquiry into British complicity in torture
Apart from having drug recovery wings in prisons, and better mental health treatment for prisoners
Well, yeah, apart from all that stuff, the Lib Dems have *DEFINITELY* betrayed their voters by going into government with the rich right-wing plutocrats rather than the slightly-less-rich right-wing war criminals, and by agreeing to cuts to end the deficit rather than going with their own policy of ending the deficit through cuts, or the Labour policy of cutting things until the deficit has gone. I can see how that makes us evil.
Don’t get me wrong – I disagree with about half of what the current government is doing, maybe more. But given that Lib Dems only make up *one sixth* of government MPs, i don’t think they’re doing too badly, all things considered…