Friday, May 23, 2014
Curate's Egg... So Far
Well, let's not kid ourselves, it was another pretty gruesome night for the Liberal Democrats.
Yet although losses in Kingston, Cambridge, Portsmouth, and Haringey are all painful (with, doubtless more to come, as I write), the fact is that the Lib Dems actually do have a few gleams of comfort amongst the ash. Although these gleams come not so much in the results, but in the implications of the results.
The surge in UKIP support this time is creating problems across the board for both Labour and the Conservatives. In fact Labour must be deeply concerned that they are not hitting as many of their targets as they did in the last round of voting. So although a pretty horrible night for so many Lib Dems, the fact is that in relative terms our pain is not so severe as it has been. So far, based on these results, we can begin to see the floor of Lib Dem support, and that floor may yet allow the party to defy predictions and play king-maker again in 2015. There is still the prospect of a no-overall-control Parliament, and with a bloc of 40+ seats, the party may yet have a decisive role to play- which has certainly not been the view for some time now.
I firmly believe that a fair minded analysis will reveal that the Liberal Democrats have played a genuinely positive role in government, and do not deserve the vituperation that has come at them from the media and their political opponents. However, we still have to get through the European count before we know the full level of the damage this time round. We are braced for a wipeout, and even a good result would still see the party lose half of its MEPs. I will write further on where the party can go from here, once all the results are finally in on Sunday or Monday.