‘At the last election Labour tried to con people in Withington, by saying that if they voted Lib Dem they would let the Tories back in. This wasn’t true, and it won’t be true at the next election.’
– John Leech MP, Liberal Democrat, by e-mail May 2008
Check the date on that email. It appears that nothing upsets John Leech, Liberal Democrat MP for Manchester Withington, more than being called a Tory… and when he says Labour has warned people that a vote for the Lib Dems is a vote for Cameron he’s right… but we now know that this was no Labour con.
So angry has the Tory slur left John, he’s felt compelled to return the favour, using images of the woman he’s described as ‘the worst prime minister of the twentieth century’ (by email, February 2007) to scare people off Labour.
To be fair as time has gone on, I’ve found John’s anti-Conservatism to be on the wane. Regular readers of this blog won’t be surprised to learn I wrote to him, as my local MP, to express concern over the Atlantic Bridge. I received no reply.
And I’ve warned John Leech about Calamity Clegg in the past.
Yet I know that John Leech is not the only Lib Dem MP who is strongly anti-Tory. The expectation of perpetual opposition makes it easy for Lib Dems like John to ignore the fact their leader is, at heart, a Europhile Conservative who felt obliged to leave the Tory party because the Eurosceptics had taken over the asylum. At heart Lib Dems know Clegg isn’t that fussed about electoral reform, which is why they’ve felt it necessary to issue warnings.
The tragedy for Lib Dems like John is further compounded by the knowledge that Nick Clegg has not even brought them electoral success, just the reverse. He’s just been lucky enough to be in the chair at a time when neither Labour nor the Conservatives could win over the electorate.
Accepting perpetual opposition has allowed Lib Dems to be all things to all people. Suddenly, that’s gone and they’re out of their comfort zone. Expect the Lib Dems to collapse into civil war any day now.