Sunday, January 8, 2012

The Liberal Democrat Party Britain Has Lost 75% of Its Support – A strong and Serious Message to the U. S. Democratic Party

Are the Democrats Listening? – Maybe Better Than Before

In Britain the political system is dominated by three political parties.  The Conservatives are center/right, the Labour Party is center and the Liberal Democrats are center/left.  Until recently the Lib Dems have been so weak that they have not mattered in national elections, the Conservatives or Labour being strong enough to get an absolute majority in Parliament, and so choose the Prime Minister and run the government.

In 2010 this changed, and the Lib Dems won enough votes to deny either of the other parties a clear majority.  This required the formation of a coalition government, and the Lib Dems chose to partner with the Conservatives even though Conservative political philosophy was far from the Lib Dem philosophy.  The key was that the Conservatives gave the Lib Dems major positions in government, including the position of Deputy Prime Minister.  For the first time in their recent history the Lib Dems were actually in the government.

The Lib Dems  rationale for joining in a coalition with their philosophical opposites, for what looked to many as a sellout,  was to use there experience in the government to show that they too were capable of effective governing, and therefore increase their power.  Well a year and a half later the results are in, and they are what rationale people would think they were going to be.  The Lib Dems have lost 75% of their support from their 2010 supporters.  The grand strategy has totally backfired.  It is a monumental disaster.

The YouGov survey of 4,300 who voted Liberal Democrat in 2010 suggests that the party's predicament may be even worse than the headline polling figures show. A quarter of those who backed Nick Clegg's party now support Labour, while another quarter are "don't knows" and the remaining quarter back other parties.

Worryingly for the Liberal Democrats, there are fewer signs than after previous elections of the party winning new supporters to replace the voters it has lost. Only 1 per cent of Labour and Conservative voters in 2010 has switched to the Liberal Democrats.

The why of all of this is pretty obvious.  The party sold out its principles in return for a junior partnership in the Conservative government, where as junior partners they have to support the very policies with which they disagreed.  Their voters, the ones who still support those policies and who didn’t get plush government jobs are, as expected, unhappy.  They see no reason to support the party. 

Even more delusional is the party itself.

A Liberal Democrat source said last night: "We always knew that by going into coalition with the Conservatives, we would lose some people who voted for us to keep them out. It is a long haul but we think we can win people back by delivering in government."

Yes, if is doesn’t work, keep doing it.

The three year decline in the Democratic Party in the U. S. has similar roots.  Mr. Obama made a centerpiece of his government philosophy the idea that he would work with Republicans, and so tried to accommodate them in order to gain their support for the bi-partisan programs he proposed.  Fair enough, but when this didn’t work the President kept at it, following a failed strategy which alienated his supporters without converting his enemies. 

Finally, with apparently one of the slowest learning curves ever in politics Mr. Obama and his team seem to be getting the message.  They did not yield on the extension of the payroll tax, and got a victory, at least in the short term.  And Mr. Obama has called the Senate’s sham “session” not to be a session, and has made recess appointments.  Senate Republicans are reported to be furious and said to be unwilling to  co-operate with the White House in the future, as opposed their previous stance, which is being  furious and not co-operating or compromising in the future.

As the experience in Britain has shown, when Mr. Obama compromised away the principles of his party, getting nothing in return his approval among voters fell.  And now when he is showing signs of leadership and a willingness to fight for the beliefs of that party his approval ratings are rising.  The interesting question will be whether or not Mr. Obama has learned from his own experience and the experience of the party that compromised away its principles in Britain and continue to govern like this in 2012. 

Doing so won’t guarantee re-election.  Not doing so will guarantee defeat at the polls.

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