Today, I have mostly been wondering if I have slipped into an alternative timeline wherein 2010-2015 never happened, and it seems like a good idea to vote Lib Dem. For pity’s sake, don’t. There are a lot of reasons why this is foolhardy, and I’m going to try to explain it all as non-judgmentally as possible. Unfortunately, because I fell for the Lib Dem crap back in 2010, I’m probably not going to do a very good job.
Before I start, please note that telling you not to vote Lib Dem is not an exhortation to vote Labour. They might be the least harmful option on the table, and you might want to do that for harm reduction, but honestly, if you think “don’t vote for this party” means “vote for this other party”, you desperately need to develop a political imagination.
This general election is not a referendum on Brexit, in the same way that the Leave vote was not a referendum on immigration.
It’s nice to think of general elections as single-issue, but they aren’t. It would be a lovely little bedtime story if voting for the right people stopped the one big bad causing all the other big bads, but that’s not how things work. Brexit, just like immigration, is not the sole cause of every problem in the country.
Would a hard Brexit make things worse? Yes, probably. But this is because the safety net is being stripped away, bit by bit. This was a process that started in 2010, abetted by the Lib Dems. And it is for this reason that another economic crash would hit so many vulnerable people so hard. When jobs disappear, people will have no access to welfare. When the NHS gets worse because of losing staff, it will collapse harder because the Lib Dems opened the door to privatisation. There will be a skills shortage due to a double whammy of escalating border policy already in place, and education being wholly boned. Things are already bad, and without rebuilding what was lost, we will be well and truly fucked. This would happen with or without Brexit: Brexit would only speed it up a bit.
So don’t let yourself be tricked into thinking that Brexit is the only problem facing the country. It isn’t. Think bigger. Much bigger. Think of what will keep us alive to weather this storm, because…
Brexit can’t be stopped, and even if the Lib Dems could stop it, they probably wouldn’t.
The Brexit genie is well and truly out of the bottle. It was a foregone conclusion from June 24th precisely because of media narratives about the will of the people and their curious boner for Nigel Farage. Regardless of who voted for it in the public or in parliament, it would have happened. Triggering Article 50 was simply turning off the life support.
This election is not about whether or not Brexit will happen. It is going to happen. It’s about who will be in charge of the negotiations.
If the Lib Dems gain seats this election, what’s likely to happen is that they will form a coalition government with the Tories again. Let’s cast our minds back again to 2010, the year the Lib Dems don’t want you to mention. While in government, the Lib Dems couldn’t even manage to stop the government from tripling tuition fees. Do you think a party that was incapable of keeping an election promise in 2010 will somehow be able to keep one they made this year for stopping a runaway train? While in government, the Lib Dems shamelessly capitulated to literally everything the Tories wanted. This is why…
The Leave vote was partially caused by the Lib Dems
The Tories and Lib Dems spent five years collaboratively ruining lives and driving the country towards ruin with their “austerity” government. As social security and the NHS were stripped away, and as public services were wrenched into private hands, things got a lot worse for a lot of people. Fingers were pointed, not towards the culprit, but to migrants. If only we had tougher controls on borders, we would be in the land of milk and honey, the Lib Dems concurred with the Tories on (incidentally, the Lib Dem policy on immigration was aligned with the Tories’). The Lib Dems waved through every single austerity measure, impoverishing countless people, while lying to them about the cause of their poverty, and didn’t utter a peep in support of migrants while they were in government. Indeed, they helped Theresa May, as Home Secretary, impose further draconian border measures.
Every time they helped the Tories, they’d claim their naked collusion was political pragmatism.
The impact of austerity and xenophobia surrounding migrants are considered two of the key causes of the Leave vote. The Lib Dems never wanted to stop these major factors, simply to not give people a vote on it. This is because they were complicit with the Tories in creating the social circumstances that led to the Leave vote.
Tim Farron is fuckawful and him and May together would be like 2010 but WORSE.
If you don’t care about the impact of Brexit (or, in a fantasyland, a land without Brexit where Tory cuts are still going strong), maybe you have a uterus or you’re LGBT.
Tim Farron is devoutly religious. He believes, and I quote, “Abortion is wrong. Society has to climb down from the position that says there is nothing morally objectionable about abortion before a certain time. If abortion is wrong, it is wrong at any time.” When it comes to anti-abortion legislation, Tim usually makes himself scarce and abstains. I will leave it up to you, uterus-owners, to determine whether that, in any way, constitutes support.
Tim’s also not particularly on the side of LGBT folk. While much has been made of his abstaining on same-sex marriage, it goes beyond this. He teamed up with the more backbenchy, unpleasant Tories, to introduce amendments to same-sex marriage legislation to allow officials to refuse to marry same-sex couples on the basis of their own personal religious beliefs. You may recognise this as exactly the same kind of crap that religious conservatives are pulling in the states.
So, Tim Farron is fairly socially illiberal, and your vote for the Lib Dems would be putting him into coalition with the cartoonishly evil Theresa May. It will be worse than 2010, with Theresa May being granted carte blanche by a homophobe to begin eroding equalities… and pretend that’s political pragmatism.
Edit (20/4/17): I’ve compiled receipts for his homophobic and anti-choice voting record here. It was actually worse than I thought. He voted for many homophobic amendments, and mostly made himself scarce on abortion votes, except voting to reduce the time limit.
You’re not going to listen to me on this anyway, are you?
Look, I was a booby who voted Lib Dem in 2010. People pointed out how awful they were on crucial politics like welfare and immigration back then. I didn’t listen, because I thought of all the nice, shiny things Nick Clegg was emptily promising. So, I strongly suspect none of you will listen to me here, and that’s as much to be expected.
I hate to be a Cassandra here, but the Lib Dems aren’t going to fix jack diddly shit, as much as you’d like them to. They’d likely make things worse for a lot of us. What you will get with a Lib Dem vote is a tax haven Britain, at the expense of the poor: you may recognise this as basically the same as the Tory vision. Having or not having the social safety net is the issue which will hit real people harder than a Brexit of any degree of tumescence. So go against the dogma, and think bigger than Brexit. Despite what the news would have you believe, there’s a hell of a lot more pressing issues.