Coffee House

It’s time to end the Liberal Democrats’ Fish Slapping Dance

7 February 2014

Danny Alexander offers his ‘dead body’ to stop a non-existent tax cut. David Laws accuses Michael Gove of thwarting some imagined plan on school inspectors. Each day seems to bring a fresh attempt at Liberal Democrats finding a new reason to thwack the Conservatives – while the Tories cheerfully take it. Britain’s government is starting to look less like coalition and more like the Fish Slapping Dance from Monty Python (above) and in my Telegraph column today, I ask what the point is.

I’ve come to respect Nick Clegg, and although CoffeeHousers will disagree, I regard him as an unusually decent politician who had wanted to build his opposition-loving rabble into a principled party championing British liberalism. ‘We’ve lost the left-wing half of our party,’ one of his advisers explained to me after the election. ‘They have gone. Like a continental shelf. We’re never getting them back.’ But at least, ran the argument, thanks to this fixed-term parliament act the LibDems had five years to rebuild from the centre. So how did that work out? The graph, below: