Outside the marginals

a commentary on the politics that followed the UK 2010 & 2015 elections

Abolishing Opposition

Tim Farron is emailing about the budget:

Today we saw exactly what we’ve come to expect from George Osborne.

While gleefully abolishing vital services in our communities, he declared with his usual arrogance, that he had abolished the Liberal Democrats.
Email “They want to abolish us” from Tim Farron, Leader of the Liberal Democrats

He doeth protest too much!

First he miss-quotes the Chancellor:

Over the past year, we have consulted widely on whether we should make compulsory changes to the pension tax system. But it was clear that there was no consensus. Indeed, the former Pensions Minister, the Liberal Democrat Steve Webb, said I was trying to abolish the lump sum. Instead, we are going to keep the lump sum and abolish the Liberal Democrats. [Laughter.] I am tempted to say it will take effect from midnight tonight.
Hansard, 16 March 2016, Financial Statement, The First Secretary of State and Chancellor of the Exchequer (Mr George Osborne)

It’s only a proposal! However Government proposals do not necessarily lead to immediate action – to do so loses the opportunity to re-announce the proposal and gain additional plaudits.

Second, this proposal is different in that most of the action has already happened – in the last Parliament. Gideon is a “raw politics” politician. Not for him any primary desire to improve the lot of his constituents. His desire is power, getting it and keeping it.

So in the last Government when the Conservatives could probably have formed a minority government and governed relying on a heavily split opposition to get their programme through, the negotiating group (which included Gideon) decided to go for a coalition with the Liberal Democrats. They embraced the Lib Dems in a smothering embrace, forced them to make hard decisions about the manifesto promises (which of course was a programme for opposition not a programme for government), and then targeted their seats at the last election virtually abolishing them.

Third, the Lib Dems might want to concentrate on rebuilding their credibility rather than reminding us that Gideon has abolished them.

Labour may however wish to privately consider how to kick back against Gideon’s next target – them. He sees nothing wrong with there being no opposition – after all anyone who opposes him has to be wrong.

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