Dead Men Left

Tuesday, May 10, 2005

Yellow Tories, and don't say I didn't warn you

That didn't take very long:

Charles Kennedy has announced a wholesale review of the Liberal Democrats' policies that could pave the way for them to ditch their tax policies.

The party fears it lost support because of its plans to replace the council tax with a local income tax, worrying people on middle-range incomes, and its call for a 50p top rate of tax on incomes of more than £100,000 a year.

Some Liberal Democrat MPs believe the platform allowed the Tories to brand it a "high tax" party in seats where the two parties did battle. In last week's election, Mr Kennedy's party performed much better in close contests against Labour than against Tories, and some MPs are warning there is "no future" for the Liberal Democrats as a left-wing alternative to Labour.

Presenting the Lib Dems as a progressive force looked ropey before the election. At best, they could be perceived as a negative, anti-war vote. It's now quite clear that the leadership holds the "disaffected Labour voters" it turned out last Thursday in contempt. The Orange Book gang are the sole force within the Lib Dems with the slightest hint of a long-term strategy for the party, whilst the Kennedy quotes above show how perfectly the visions of Vince Cable's born-again Thatcherites fit with Kennedy's grubby short-term thinking. Disaffected Labour voters were victims of a political confidence trick. Here's a part of it:

The policy review will also focus on Europe and energy. The party may drop its opposition to nuclear power amid evidence that it could provide a way to combat climate change.

DoDo has more on just how bad the Lib Dems are on the environment: as ever, fine words in opposition are abandoned when the remotest sniff of power tickles Liberal nostrils.

These manoeuvres do at least enable those of us on the Left to distance ourselves from these hucksters. Though the risk of a Lib Dem-Tory coalition based on more than pure opportunism has become appreciably greater, so too has the possibility of building a genuine left-wing alternative to neoliberalism.