Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Just how bad are things within the Lib Dems?

So bad that nearly all of their backbenchers are revolting against government policy.

Indeed, according to (a lovely website for watching parliamentary democracy in action), 21 out of 57 Lib Dem MPs, or 37%, revolted against their leadership's decision to follow the Conservative's lead in the Coalition and agreeing to raise student tuition fees, something that's cause quite a bit of stir among the traditionally-Lib Dem-voting student public, especially given that the Lib Dems said they would never, ever vote for such a rise in their 2010 platform. I'm sure everyone by now has heard of rioters hitting Prince Charles' car. That's just a bunch of angry former Liberals.

In total, 27 MPs revolted against the student fees decision, so you can see how lopsided this little revolt was in the Conservative-Lib Dem coalition. As Revolts points out, it's an even more stark contrast between the Lib Dem front bench (those in cabinet, including Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne, and others), and those in the backbench. From Revolts:
Things look even worse for the Lib Dems if you compare the behaviour of the Lib Dem front and backbenches. Twenty Lib Dem members of the Coalition Government voted in favour, with Chris Huhne unable to attend due to a ministerial engagement abroad. But of the backbenchers, 19 voted against the measure last night, along with two others who stood down from the Government as [parliamentary secretaries] in order to be able to cast dissenting votes. Only eight Lib Dem backbenchers (one of whom was ex-minister David Laws) voted for the measure, while a further seven backbenchers either abstained (including Deputy Leader Simon Hughes) or failed to attend.
This is comparable to anti-gun-registry Dippers and that controversy we had a while back, though in fairness to the NDP, I don't think they ever had policy in their 2008 platform ensuring the gun registry's protection. However, 12 Dippers originally voted against the leadership's wishes, or 33%. However, there were no riots over this vote.

If 21 out of 29 voting backbenchers voted against you, including the party's former leader and its current president, then you know you have a problem brewing. Add on top of this their horrible polling numbers (if trends hold, they've lost 57% of their vote from 2010), and Nick Clegg is going to have a fight on his hands, sooner rather than later. You can almost smell the revolution in the air.

Revolts also notes that now, the Coalition has seen revolts on 51% of votes in this new Parliament. So much for "stable" governance. Can you imagine if this occurred in Canada, with a Liberal-NDP coalition? We'd be pulling our hair out.

However, overall I think the coalition has been a relatively successful model, especially given the differences between the two parties involved. Maybe there is hope yet.

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