The Lib Dems have begun their campaign for Somerton and Frome and are already busily trying to persuade the electorate that Labour ‘can’t win here’.
What they omit to inform us is that their party has seen a monumental collapse in their vote share since Nick Clegg’s fateful decision to form a coalition government with David Cameron in 2010.
The first past the post electoral system invokes some desperate responses from voters who find themselves trapped in seats where their vote seems to make little difference to the outcome. Somerton and Frome is one such seat.
For anyone keen to unseat a Tory it used to seem counter-productive to vote as you would wish and instead to vote for the best chance of toppling whichever useless, lazy Tory was currently incumbent or challenging.
I fell for this myself when I voted tactically in 2010. Sure, we kept the Tory out. The Liberal Democrat candidate, David Heath, was duly elected. I then had to stand by and watch as Nick Clegg’s decision made an absolute mockery of my vote.
The era of Austerity was ushered in – ordinary, working people were forced by an uncaring, elite-sponsored government, to pay for the reckless behaviour of those in the global financial sector. Cut after cut after cut was imposed on vital services which are there to make Britain a better, fairer place to live. The Health and Social Care Act (2012) was passed. This massive piece of legislation arrived fully-formed very shortly after the coalition was formed. It had obviously been worked on long and hard by those who see great prizes for business in the breaking up and privatisation of our beloved NHS.
The catalogue of promises made by the Lib Dems and then broken as soon as they took office should be shameful reading for any Lib Dem activist or candidate. They are, however, completely unrepentant.
Jo Swinson, the increasingly deluded leader of their party, was Private Parliamentary Secretary to Nick Clegg. She got to learn at close quarters how you do that thing of promising one course of action and then doing the exact opposite. How to calculate the damaging effect on our democracy of actions such as Clegg’s? We can all see that it has done his personal earnings no harm at all (plumb job with Facebook and all that) – perhaps Swinson can see the wisdom of doing as Clegg did.
We, the people, will pay the price for one woman’s endless ambition, if we allow ourselves to be wooed.
Getting back to Somerton and Frome. The Lib Dems held the seat from 1997 to 2010. David Heath was the local MP – hard-working and well-liked, he betrayed his electorate by allowing himself to be co-opted by the Tories before retiring.
In 2015, the Lib Dem vote collapsed by a massive 28.1%. They were able to add back 1.5% of that in 2017. This same election saw Labour’s vote share leap by 9.9%. We came within 2328 votes of pushing the Lib Dems into third place.
The notion that a succession of desparate wannabe Lib Dem candidates can restore their fortunes is laughable. The only party on the up round here is Labour. Vote with your heart and with the interests of your fellow citizens in mind.
Don’t be tempted to vote tactically. It would be a galling and pointless waste of your precious vote. Believe me, I know what it feels like.