It has become a feature of Lib Dem and Conservative blogs to produce policy lists which they claim prove that the Coalition is a radical and reforming government. These individual claims are dodgy in themselves but the rest of us might conclude that they amount to little in total compared to the damage about to be inflicted on people up and down the country. To paraphase George Orwell, all things are equal but some things are more equal than others.The Coalition programme is an agreement that the Tories can do what they wish on the economy in return for minor concessions to the Lib Dem’s on policy intiatives that are dear to them. It is not a zero sum game.
It is worth repeating that the Lib Dems opposed the Tory programme of public expenditure cuts and tax increases in the General Election. Can they be forgiven for an act of betrayal of their supporters and to the country as a whole ? Are the concessions they wrung from the eager Tories hungry for office a price worth paying? There are two considerations. First, what is the price? It is entirely resonable to conclude it is going to be extremely high: lost economic output, hundreds of thousands , perhaps millions, of unemployed, falling real incomes, and numerous personal and family tragedies. Despite their last minute conversion to Tory economics, any Lib Dem worth his salt must be heavy-hearted at the consequences of Lib Dem betrayal . The claim that cuts on the scale of those proposed are inevitable now carries no conviction, they have become faint as more and more people come to realise that the cuts are not required and, indeed, will be positively harmful to the economy. And secondly, what do they gain? It is a pathetic and deceptive list. There are tax changes to help the poor that are swallowed up by unemployment and higher prices; civil liberty gains, that make our roads more dangerous our borders more porous, increases the terrorist threat and reduces the ability of the police to catch guilty offenders by use of the DNA database; opposition to nuclear power generation that threatens our ability to have sufficient power in years to come, and defence cuts which reduce the ability of our armed forces to protect us. The list is seemingly endless. In themselves these changes are paltry. The majority of us recognise that the fruitless years of derided Lib Dem policy formulation has been rewarded by public office. It would be laughable if it were not so damaging to us all.
It is time to call a halt. If we are well led, if we are brave and defiant the tide can be turned in the autumn. It is time for men of goodwill to come together to turn back the tide. Unfortunately, in Parliament that will be the responsibilty of the Lib Dem MPs whose supine behaviour got us to this point in the first place. They don’t have to do this to us all. They can decline to join in. It may be the only way they can save their seats is by backtracking. If you cannot do it for us, do it for youself.