James Forsyth James Forsyth

The Lib Dems’ hostage situation

Norman Lamb’s comment on the Daily Politics about the Lib Dems having become a “human shield” for the government sums up the mood on the Liberal Democrat benches. Lamb went onto wonder whether this was inevitable: “Whether that’s inevitably the case for the junior partner I don’t know… But we are in this for the long term.”

The bad news for the Liberal Democrats is, I fear, that it is. On Friday I was having a discussion with a senior Labour figure who was explaining how the party was now going to concentrate its fire on Cameron not Clegg. But within two minutes, we were back to discussing the Liberal Democrats because there’s no getting away from the fact that Cameron and the Conservatives can’t get bills through the House of Commons if the Liberal Democrats vote against them.
 
For this reason, the Liberal Democrats need to start making a positive, “liberal” case for the policies they’re voting through. Comparing themselves to hostages will just make things worse for them.

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