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  • A year on, regrets on voting Libdem?

    by Sunny
    8th May, 2011 at 5:50 pm    

    The New Statesman asked if I regretted voting for the Libdems a year ago at the General Election.

    My reply was:

    I regret the course of action Nick Clegg took after the election – but at the time it was the only decision I felt at ease with. The Labour Party of May 2010 was trying desperately to triangulate on the economy, on cutting benefits, on immigrants and asylum-seekers. It had no positive vision for the future and it was intellectually spent. I couldn’t bring myself to vote for it.

    In hindsight, many decisions are regrettable, but we have no choice but to stand by them. I saw how quickly the Lib Dem leadership were willing to ditch their principles; I saw a much better vision articulated by Ed Miliband – so I joined Labour to support his leadership bid and that vision. And there were plenty who followed the same path. You live, you make mistakes and you learn. But you can’t whitewash your own history.

    Laurie Penny was also asked the same question and says she nearly voted Libdem but changed at the last minute because she had a good Labour MP. I didn’t. I had Alan Keen: who was happy about going into Iraq, happy about the Third Runway at Heathrow and was claiming absurd amount of expenses. I just could not bring myself to vote for him.

    I don’t really care much for some ultra-left idiots who keep mentioning this as some sort of proof that I’m not a leftie. Grow up, fools.

    At the time I did campaign for Labour candidates in south London who I felt had more principles. I wasn’t alone in being a Libdem voter who joined Labour or switched the allegiance after the election. I hope both the Libdems and Labour keep that in mind.

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    1. sunny hundal

      Blogged: : A year on, regrets on voting Libdem?

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      RT @sunny_hundal: A year on, regrets on voting Libdem?

    3. Tim Holmes

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : A year on, regrets on voting Libdem?

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      RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : A year on, regrets on voting Libdem?

    5. bieneosa

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : A year on, regrets on voting Libdem?

    6. Jack Royston

      RT @sunny_hundal: Blogged: : A year on, regrets on voting Libdem?

    7. sunny hundal

      @xtophercook @hopisen hah! Hold on a sec there. I'm a former Libdem voter not a coalition supporter

    1. Fiona Henderson — on 8th May, 2011 at 5:57 pm  

      How sad, I agree I have felt so let down and foolish that I believed the Libdem promises. Nick C had won me over from my disillusion with Labour but I must admit if I vote again it certainly won’t be Libdem :( . Please let me find a politician who has remained honest and true to restore my faith to the voting process!

    2. Don — on 8th May, 2011 at 6:17 pm  

      Sunny, I’m not sure that I am ready to articulate how I feel about the hours and the shoe-leather I put in for the LibDem cause and the ultimate result of that.

      It was a painful realisation that I could no longer support what Labour had become, but I could not stand aside and watch the Tories slide in unopposed. Where else to go? It made perfect sense at the time.

      Hindsight is 20/20.

    3. Boyo — on 8th May, 2011 at 7:25 pm  

      I voted Labour after toying with voting Lib Dem, and I was right. I also voted David M after toying with voting Ed M, and I was right then too.

      That’s not to crow, as I am devastated by both what the Coalition government is doing and I along with everyone else never imagined the Liberals would act in this way, but when it came to it something in my gut told me that for all its faults Labour was the only game in town - to vote Liberal would be to betray the Socialist in me. And there I think is the rub - those self-described Lefties without a real ideological core, driven by single issues are very much at risk of making unwise political calculations. The same, in all honesty, could be said on the Right - I’m happier arguing the toss with a Tory who at least has a strong core belief than a Lefty or Liberal with vague ideas about equality and ecology but no inherent understanding about Power.

      That was also why I chose David over Ed. Oh Ed made the right noises and was closer to my politics, but in my heart I could tell he was a loser and what was more important to me than anything was to get Labour back after five years. For others, this was plainly too high a price to pay, only of course it is largely not them who will pay that price.

    4. Sunny — on 8th May, 2011 at 8:14 pm  

      Don - I feel your pain! Though I’ve never canvassed for any Libdems.

      Boyo - I obviously don’t agree about the EdM vs DavidM bit.. but

      but when it came to it something in my gut told me that for all its faults Labour was the only game in town

      you see, this is why I wanted AV.

    5. douglas clark — on 8th May, 2011 at 8:39 pm  

      I don’t see it as somehow wrong to change your mind.

      I had stopped being a Liberal Democrat voter a few years ago, for reasons other than the present sell out. But I continued to wish them well in England up until, well, you know….

      I still consider myself a liberal, note the small l, I just vote for a different party now. But I am still a liberal.

      I feel sorry for the somewhat restricted options that you have. I feel Don, and maybe even Sunny, are cheated out of realistic choices. Their only options are to try to sway existing political parties in their preferred direction. Which is a hard sell.

      In passing, it was the drop in the Liberal vote in Scotland that made the difference to the number of MSPs elected for each party. The Liberals were decimated in places that have been their heartlands.

      It is sad to see a decent party getting ripped apart by Nick Clegg.

    6. damon — on 8th May, 2011 at 8:57 pm  

      It’s best not to vote at all I reckon. I’ve only ever voted twice, and both times they lost anyway.

    7. Daniel — on 9th May, 2011 at 12:41 am  

      Sunny - I enjoy and agree with a lot of what you write but to help you with some terminology you’re a liberal not a socialist and you look like much more of a “fool” now than those “ultra-left idiots”. Vote Lib Dem?
      Haha. A party with a multimillionaire leader that relies on rich donors and you didn’t think they would be easily subverted by capital into extending the neo-liberal project.


      I wouldn’t get upset about being attacked by Ian Bone. He did once turn up on Jonathan Ross with “Hospitalised Copper Calendar 1992″.

    8. Boyo — on 9th May, 2011 at 6:25 am  

      I think the thing about Nick Clegg is that people underestimate his self-interest. His wealth, sense of entitlement and intelligence propelled him in to politics, and there he shall stay - he will simply join the Conservative Party if he loses his seat, or his party.

      Clegg is quite simply the Tony Blair of the Lib Dems, although he is perhaps a more honest example of true Liberalism (when the Liberal Party represented the interests of the Bourgeois class) than your Vince Cables, who are simply useful idiots.

    9. Sarah AB — on 9th May, 2011 at 7:12 am  

      I wouldn’t worry about what the ultra-left think or say. I don’t know if I’d want to count as a ‘leftie’ in their books - and I voted Labour.

    10. MaidMarian — on 9th May, 2011 at 8:56 am  

      ‘I saw how quickly the Lib Dem leadership were willing to ditch their principles’

      I’m very sorry Sunny, but I have no sympathy. What you actually are saying here is that you wanted to cast an ‘anti-Labour’ vote and that you did so for the classic ‘soft option.’

      The Orange Book, the hard right Lib Dem councils, the rightward drift in Lib Dem policy (if not, granted, rhetoric). Not one bit of this was a secret and was there to anyone who looked. The idea that these famous, ‘Lib Dem prinicples,’ were really some sort of cuddly old-ish Labour was palpably arrant nonsense. This was a Lib Dem leadership clearly comfortable with the Conservative world view, and a party that via the triple lock endorsed it.

      Clegg promised influence on the tories, what he has delivered is the confluence that was there for all to see. There were no deceits, no lies and no one was misled. An awful lot of people just believed what they wanted to, rather than what was in front of them.

      The Lib Dems have not ditched their principles - they are acting out exactly what they want in government.

      Sunny, there is nothing at all wrong with changing your mind. But there is something wrong with casting a vote when you didn’t take the time to look at what you were voting for. There was no Lib Dem betrayal.

      douglas clark (if you see this) - Out of interest, did you ever get the sense in Scotland that the Lib Dems were seen as the ‘Left-not-SNP’ choice, or were the seen on their own terms in Scotland?

    11. platinum786 — on 9th May, 2011 at 9:37 am  

      I voted Lib Dem, never again. The complete lack of backbone at national and council level really annoyed me. They sold out everything and their excuse was “we have to all pull along”. The only thing they fought for was AV as they feel through AV they’ll see more Lib Dem seats. They are 100% about self preservation.

      Labour 4 life.

    12. MaidMarian — on 9th May, 2011 at 9:42 am  

      platinum786 - With respect.

      But it is NOT a lack of backbone or a sell-out. This is the direction that the Leadership took the party in.

      Agree on AV though.

    13. douglas clark — on 9th May, 2011 at 10:25 am  

      Maidmarian @ 10,

      I always thought that Liberal Democrats stood a bit apart from a left / right narrative. It’s always difficult to say anything about politics without drawing down scorn, but it used to be the case that Liberals were more in favour of the individual, and by extension human rights than others.

      Clearly the Clegg Cameron moment makes it impossible to maintain that point of view. So, at the last election their vote suffered for two reasons, firstly no-one elected them on a mandate of backing the tories and secondly Scots in particular have spent years getting (nearly) shot of the tories. There was no way that they would be allowed to be a fifth column. Perhaps that’s a little harsh and simplistic, but that’s they way I see it.

    14. Kismet Hardy — on 9th May, 2011 at 1:49 pm  

      “I don’t see it as somehow wrong to change your mind.”

      My favourite saying is: ‘When the facts change, I change my mind. What do you do?’

    15. Optimist — on 9th May, 2011 at 4:10 pm  

      Boyo, Boyo, Yes, I voted Labour too for very much the same reasons as you - but I know in my heart of hearts that if they do come back in 5 years, they would follow the same old Tory policies as before. They would also privatise the health service, but a bit more slowly. They would also cut public spending, but a bit more slowly. They would make the working class pay for bankers robbing this country, while they were in power. So, at the end day only the workers and the poor ‘will pay that price’, again, under Labour !

    16. davebones — on 9th May, 2011 at 4:41 pm  

      you gotta laugh tho. I thought Nick Clegg and the LibDems sounded great though I was still cynical enough and realised that there wasn’t enough difference to bother voting. Last time I voted I voted for the Liberal/SDP Alliance! That was a laugh.

      And who says voting Labour is voting left? They purged all the lefties a long time ago innit.

      Though I can’t see what this lot is doing is good, I can’t honestly believe that Labour would have done any different. The Tories reduced some of the Police powers and surveilance powers the “left” Labour brought in!

      I do like the idea of the UK getting used to coalition governments though however faulty this one might be.

      Overall the Westminster bubble is looking like the same sham it has always been.

    17. Optimist — on 10th May, 2011 at 8:35 am  

      Sunny –

      ‘There is no bigger fool than the one who thinks everyone else is a fool.’ - Confucius

    18. Arif — on 11th May, 2011 at 7:28 am  

      I pretty much agree with Optimist (#15) and davebones (#16). When we talk about the Lib Dems, Labour, or any other party, we probably need to distinguish between their members and supporters who care about all sorts of issues very deeply, and the leaderships who additionally have to worry about looking stupid and inconsistent in the media, about making compromises to avoid being marginalised and about the unexpected real world complexities civil servants put in front of them.

      We can paint a sympathetic or harsh picture of any of those leaderships, and a lot of “politics” ends up being just that. Focusing on whether we can trust them and sometimes selecting evidence to justify what we want to believe.

      The left of the Labour Party were as marginal under Blair and Brown as the left of the Liberal Democrats are now. Both parties leaders were elected by their members. The left are either a minority of their members or a sufficient number of them do as Boyo does, and votes for someone they deem electable rather than someone who is tainted by actually being left-wing and perceived as such by the wider electorate.

      In my view, the left’s best hope would have been AV - allowing the left to become visible by enabling everyone to confidently vote for who they believe in rather than playing purely tactical games leaving no-one knowing where anyone is. It would have brought some clarity into politics, as well as more fairness. Whatever else I blame the Lib Dems for, I don’t blame them for the loss of that vote. But with hindsight maybe it would have been better in the long term to have gone into coalition with Labour and Independents to get AV, than to take the moral high ground, work with the largest party and create a government for the “national interest” providing stability in the short and medium term. It was a tough call.

      I think the Lib Dem left should stop co-operating with their leadership now and just say what they believe. Work with other left-wing opposition movements including the Labour left, if the Labour left is mature enough to do so. They may be thrown out of the party and be marginalised. Again it is a tough call.

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