Thursday, October 14, 2010

I do not agree with Nick

During the previous election campaign in the UK, the slogan "I agree with Nick" became a popularized. This slogan referred to Nick Clegg, leader of the Liberal Democrats, who was invited to debate with the leaders of the Conservative and Labour parties. These debates helped raise the profile of his party and their positions. These positions included opposition to renewing Trident, introducing swift and deep cuts to address the national deficit, and any rise in student fees. Many Liberal Democrats asked voters to vote for them to help ensure that the Conservative Party did not take power. Those who said "I agree with Nick" were favourable to these policies and strategy.

After the election, there were many changes. First, the Liberal Democrats agreed to join in a coalition with the Conservatives. This ensured that the Conservatives would, in fact, take power. Secondly, the Conservative-Liberal Democrat coalition has agreed to move forward with swift and deep cuts in public expenditure to address the national debt. Thirdly, the Prime Minister David Cameron (Con) recently promised to support the renewal of Trident at his party conference. Finally, the coalition has appeared to embrace recent recommendations to not only raise student fees, but to actually remove any cap on fees.

We may wonder about the powerful "I agree with Nick" group of voters both new and old who helped support the Liberal Democrats in the spring elections. Now that Nick and his party have abandoned many of the most popular pledges they promised during their campaign (with the slogan of "No More Broken Promises"), should we expect to see "I do not agree with Nick" t-shirts soon? I suspect this will catch on soon.


Ben said...

In Oxford the Lib Dems campaigned on the basis of getting Labour out. Though in fact they managed to win neither of the seats, despite I believe taking a plurality across the two constituencies.

Richiedaw said...

What were LDs supposed to do sit in the purity of opposition wringing their hands ! By joining Govt we get 50% or so of the LD manifesto implemented.

Try reading some of the right wing blogs and see how much they dislike the leftward lean of the Coalition.

The disagreement before the election on timing and scale of cuts was some £6 billion out of a deficit of £160 billion pa hardly a chasm .The Sovereign debt crisis is what changed minds on timing .

you omit to mention LD gains so far like Personal Tax Threshold ,CGT,Prisons Policy,EU Policy,No repeal of HR Act etc etc .

The Brooks Blog said...


Many thanks for this. You are correct to say that the Liberal Democrats have made some gains. However, issues such as the Lib Dem policy on prisons was not a policy that the party widely trumpeted: it was a rather a policy that received some criticism for being perhaps too lenient.

The "bread and butter" Lib Dem issues would seem to be opposition to trident, raising tuition fees, and swift/deep cuts. These three issues received perhaps the most (and most favourable) attention amongst Lib Dems and beyond. All three appear to have been scrapped upon joining the current government.

Should the party have sat in opposition instead? I suspect the answer may well be yes. The Liberals have a history of catastrophic election defeats after coalitions with the Tories. My fear is that history will repe4at itself.

This will not be a problem for Conservatives who may well bemoan certain changes to their policies, but it would seem far more of their policies are getting implemented than not.