Tuesday, May 15, 2007

The Liberal Democrats

Gracchi has it half right. It isn't just an alliance with Labour that could prove a disaster for the Liberal Democrats. Joining either coalition could be the Lib Dems undoing. Join the Conservatives and all their left-wing supporters abandon them. Labour shout "vote yellow, go blue" at any Liberal Democrat who pokes his head above the parapet between now and the end of time. Join a Labour coalition and you've propped up an unpopular government. More than that. People will just wonder what the point of the Lib Dems is. Why not just vote Labour in the first place?

The other parties complicate British politics. However, the same complications exist in all the Western countries. Even in the States the possibility of a Bloomberg candidacy has to be considered. He might seriously affect the balance of votes in a coming election. Whether the Republicans or Democrats suffer the most is unclear although I've seen early polling suggesting the Republicans might lose more support. However, a lot can change between now and election day.

In a first past the post electoral system there is always something tragic about the minor parties. The Lib Dems can attract a relatively large portion of the vote but proximity to genuine power is toxic to their chances. A Bloomberg presidential run, even with the vast finance he could bring to bear, would make no contribution to getting the kind of policies he supports put into practice.


Gracchi said...

I agree with you- I wrote that article quickly but there is a danger in the Lib Dems getting what they want. Having said that if they could alter the major parties policies say force Brown to withdraw from Iraq by joining with him it could work but I foresee all sorts of dangers for them.

In the states- absolutely, even Theodore Roosevelt more plausible as a presidential candidate than anyone running at the moment- he had afterall already done the job- failed to succeed as a third party candidate- I think teh only consequence of him standing and no doubt Edmund can correct me was to make Woodrow Wilson the Democratic candidate president as opposed to William Taft the Republican.

Vino S said...

I agree that the Lib-Dems are in a tricky situation and so, if they have to choose between backing Labour and the Tories come a hung parliament, it could split the party.

Regarding US politics, because a presidential contest is between _candidates_ rather than parties, i think it is more likely that a 'third party' or independent candidate could make an impact. I think they could - if they were an attractive personality and managed to appeal to both left and right - be able to outpoll dull candidates from major parties. For example, I would guess [and obviously, being a counter-factual it can only be a guess] that if Eisenhower had stood as an independent against a dull Republican and a dull (and left-wing) Democrat in 1952 he could still have won.