Steerpike’s photos from the Lib Dem conference make the affair look far more interesting than it could possibly have been. As I have written here before, the terms ‘Liberal Democrat’ and ‘party conference’, when put together, constitute probably the most soporific words in the English language. There are few ways to adequately summarise the pointlessness of this annual fandango of positioning and lies.
Granted the other party conferences aren’t much better. But at least people broadly know — largely for historical reasons — why the Conservative and Labour parties exist. There is simply no point in the Lib Dems. They may once have been a useful outlet for a protest vote; now we have UKIP and the Greens for that.
During last year’s conference I wrote that:
‘There is simply no purpose in the Liberal Democrats. There never has been. It is just a collection of people who for various reasons – understandable dislike of the other parties, hilarious opportunism or simple ignorance – wandered into a party and then tried to agree on what the people they find themselves among could be said to agree on or believe in.’
Which was probably too kind. But allow me one example of what I meant.
David Laws is back in the Cabinet after the compulsory period of purdah. Readers will recall that he had to leave it in 2010, after just 17 days, because his domestic arrangements — which included some serious expenses fiddling — became known.
The affair also ‘outed’ Laws as gay. In subsequent interviews he revealed that when he was coming to political consciousness, the main thing which drove him – a fiscal conservative – away from the Conservative Party was the fact that during the 1980s the Conservative Party was not known for its ‘social liberalism’. But now that Mr Cameron’s party has spear-headed the successful campaign for equal gay marriage rights this stumbling block for Mr Laws undoubtedly no longer exists. Yet Mr Laws has not joined the Conservatives. He remains in the Lib Dems. And in that fact you have the only reason for why the party still exists. It is an accident: a mish-mash of cowardly careerists pretending to have a point.
I do hope Jeremy Clarkson, and others, run against Nick Clegg and colleagues 2015. British politics would be so much healthier if the Liberal Democrats simply ceased to exist.