Les libéraux-démocrates de Nick Clegg ont formé en 2010 une coalition avec le parti conservateur qui a permis à David Cameron de devenir premier ministre. Les Lib-Dems, au pouvoir pour la première fois depuis 1945, ont déçu leurs militants car ils ont échoué à faire passer les réformes promises du mode de scrutin et de la chambre des lords. Nick Clegg se force à défendre les politiques d’austérité de Cameron qui ne sont pas conformes aux attentes de l’électorat liberal démocrate, plus proche des travaillistes que des conservateurs. Nombre de militants ont décidé de quitter le parti. Le seul parti europhile est désormais mourant…
The Liberal Democrats’ conference held in Brighton between the 22nd and the 26th of September- gave the party members the opportunity to assess the policies that have been implemented by the coalition government for two and a half years. It won’t come as a surprise: the decisions made by the government are highly controversial!
If one takes into consideration the Lib Dems’ political platform and the reasons why people voted for them, the gap between expectations and reality is all the more striking. The Lib Dems justified their forming a coalition with the Conservatives with the idea that they would, once in power, pass key constitutional and electoral reforms. Yet this was a complete and utter failure. There will be fewer constitutional reforms passed by this year’s parliament than by any parliament in living memory. Not even hereditary peers have been removed from Westminster!
The policies of the coalition government are incompatible with the ideas usually defended by the Liberal Democrats. The government imposed austerity because the tories believe it will help curb the deficit without preventing growth. The Lib Dems’ rank-and-file on the other hand is more concerned about the poor and the environment. The Britons who voted for the Lib Dems in May 2010 feel somewhat betrayed, which helps explain the disaster in opinion polls. In fact, the latest polls show a total collapse of party support: if elections were held today, the Lib Dems would lose most of their seats and keep no more than 10. Liberal Democrats actually risk slinking off into obscurity. Some polls showed they were now the fourth party in British politics behind Ukip, a far-right party that is more radical about immigration and education and extremely Eurosceptic. The Liberal Democrats will have to stop infuriating their electorate if they want to keep the chance to promote their vision of a Liberal Britain.