by Martin Odoni

Some on the left think ‘Sir’ Keir Starmer has made a good start as a Labour Leader whom real progressives can rely on. Some think he is already on the brink of completely destroying every bit of progress the left made in reforming the Labour Party under Jeremy Corbyn.

For myself, I would argue that it is much too early to draw a clear conclusion, but I have to say, I already see clear signs that the left should be very suspicious. I shall list them with limited elaboration; –

  • Starmer off-loaded a lot of Corbyn supporters from the Shadow Cabinet before getting around to appointing even the first of the ones he retained. This gives a very strong impression that the likes of Rebecca Long-Bailey were only kept as a pacification gesture to the party-left. (No, Emily Thornberry is not a leftist.) Also note that Long-Bailey was Shadow Industry Secretary under Corbyn, but is now Shadow Education Secretary – something of a demotion.
  • Starmer did not retain leftist Richard Burgon, who was clearly one of the most able of, admittedly, not a huge whirlpool of potential front-bench talent.
  • Starmer recalled Blairite dinosaurs like the immensely-corrupt Lord Falconer, Nick Brown, and Rachel ‘we’ll-be-tougher-on-welfare-than-the-Tories‘ Reeves. Starmer could hardly be less progressive without offering a place at the table to Jacob Rees-Mogg.
  • Starmer failed to appoint a Shadow Minister for the Disabled.
  • Starmer has been rather ‘fluttering his eyelashes‘ at the Tory benches about forming a Government of ‘National Unity’ during the CoVid-19 pandemic. After years of fashionable complaint around the country that a Leader of the Opposition with over forty defeats of the sitting Government to his name has provided ‘ineffective Opposition’, it is utterly bewildering that Starmer’s idea of being ‘effective in Opposition’ to a Tory administration is to join forces with Boris Johnson.
  • By the same measure, Lisa Nandy, the new Shadow Foreign Secretary, keeps talking about ‘working with the Government’, rather than cross-examining Government conduct.
New Labour co-operative opposition

Corbyn defeated the Government over forty times in the Commons, and centrists called him ‘ineffective’. Starmer and Nandy want to work WITH the Government, and centrists say, “At last, some EFFECTIVE Opposition!” Do they even think before they speak?

  • Starmer asks the Government to publish their ‘exit strategy‘ for the pandemic. Not a bad question to ask in itself, but surely if he was really looking to be ‘effective’, he would prioritise other questions? Like, for instance, “How in blazes has the Government responded so badly to the pandemic that the UK is now projected to be hit far worse than any other European country, with a death-toll higher than the next four countries combined?” A national emergency requires at least as much rigorous cross-examination of Government as ‘normal’ times. This would be a much rougher question to ask, but it needs to be asked. Why is Starmer being gentle on an extreme right-wing administration?
Projected CoVid-19 death-tolls

The projected death-toll for the UK, unless there is a serious change of approach by the Government, is LARGER than the civilian death-toll due to air-raids during World War II

  • Starmer has offered little discernible reaction to the shocking death-toll confirmed in the UK for the 24 hours prior to the 8th of April. Even allowing for complications in the way data is processed – another failing he should be criticising – the toll for the day of 938 demanded a fierce response. Equally, he should have been leading the pushback against the preposterous attempts by the mainstream media to claim that the day was ‘better news‘ than the previous day, even though the new death-toll was not only a record for the UK during the crisis, but was actually higher than the disastrous peak in Italy – 919 on 27th March. Worse than Italy, after it was the epicentre of the crisis for weeks!
  • Starmer shows disturbing signs of giving in to unreasonable demands from the excessively-respected Board of Jewish Deputies, and of taking all its complaints about ‘anti-Semitism’ (actually criticism of Israel) at face-value. This was the key weapon of the Labour Right in their campaign to undermine Corbyn and smear the reputations of his supporters. It was used filthily, ruthlessly, unscrupulously, and without abatement for over four years, and destroyed the lives of thousands of good, decent people – the overwhelming majority of whom were on the party-left – who simply wanted Palestinian rights to be respected. Many of them, like myself, are actually Jewish. Starmer has displayed no willingness to discuss the matter with anti-Zionist Jewish groups like Jewish Voice For Labour, suggesting he is uninterested in getting a broader perspective, and regards ‘Jews’ as a homogeneous mass.
  • Is it ever a good look for a Labour leader to accept a knighthood?
Sir Keir - the egalitarian

Not writing off Starmer as Tony Blair mk II yet. But he is off to an unpromising start.

If you have spotted other worrying signs, feel free to list them in the comments.

To repeat, I am not writing Starmer off yet, as such. But if you know the important details to watch for, the signs are bad.

Anyway, to lighten the mood, we shall now finish on a joke, albeit one with a serious point behind it that centrists should pause to consider about their own behaviour under Corbyn. It relates to the first Opinion Poll of the new Leader of the Opposition’s tenure, a survey for Wales only; –

Centrist whining goes around & comes around

You can’t have it both ways, Centrists. Given Starmer is a new leader, there should be a ‘bounce’ and yet there isn’t one, so he has to take the same stick as Corbyn used to every time there was bad polling news.

As I say, it is a joke, but there is an echo of truth. This is exactly the sort of knee-jerk rubbish the Labour-Right were throwing at Corbyn any time there was a problem. They had better brace themselves for a lot of the same grief coming the other way in the years ahead.

_____

UPDATE: As I was writing the above, Starmer added to the Shadow Cabinet Jess Phillips, Wes Streeting, Peter Kyle, and Stephen Kinnock. All right wing of the party and a history of malignant anti-Corbynism, including undermining both of Corbyn’s General Election efforts. The Shadow Cabinet is now dominated by the right. I think that counts as an extra mark against Starmer’s progressive credentials.

Starmer’s total lack of pushback against the Evening Standard’s brazen display of anti-Semitism this week is another. This was against his own colleague, and while Starmer was promising the Board of Deputies that he would fight anti-Semitism. It seems that he, like all the Labour-Right, are only interested in fighting Jew-hate on the left of their own party – even when it is not there – than fight the real thing in the party that is supposed to be their diametrically-opposed enemy.

by Martin Odoni

I was going to write an article about this myself but SKWAWKBOX got there first; –

Just after last year’s General Election, as ‘centrists’ and the Establishment reeled at Labour’s huge ‘surprise’ surge – though we and others said all along it would happen – the SKWAWKBOX pointed out six ‘desperation tactics‘ Labour insiders had predicted that the Labour right would use to try to undermine the Corbyn-led, continuing impetus toward government.

All six were duly used.

To learn what they are, click here.

6 desperation tactics

But there are several extra thoughts I need to add.

The big worry that occurs to me is that the centrist fanatics may have been conspiring with the Conservatives to set up the last two weeks of renewed infighting in the Labour Party. Think about the order of events; –

  • An opinion poll two weeks ago put Labour seven points up.
  • Two days later, the Tories hid information about the Salisbury Poisoning from Jeremy Corbyn prior to a debate of the matter in the House of Commons.
  • Corbyn asked reasonable questions about the matter as a result.
  • The Right of the Labour Party appears almost on stand-by to throw a public wobbler about him being ‘unpatriotic’ and a supporter of Putin.

 

A little like with the way the Chicken Coup was carried out two years ago, it all looks too neat and tidy not to have been orchestrated. Blue Labour has always been very fond of theatrics, and they always hope that the public are too naive to notice the implausible degree of ‘coincidence’.

With Corbyn rightly firing Owen Smith yesterday (whether you agree with Corbyn’s policy on Brexit or not, collective responsibility principles demand the Shadow Cabinet supports it, and Smith publicly opposed it), we are now getting more of the usual guff about Corbyn being a dictator; funny how in Blue Labour minds, Corbyn alternates between being too feeble to be a leader and being too iron-fisted (Schrödinger’s Labour leader once more). But Smith has no one to blame but himself. He knew Labour’s position on Brexit , and he probably realises how impractical a second referendum would be. When can we fit it in? What exactly happens if the vote rejects the final deal?

People think that centrists are, by definition, moderate in outlook, ergo less fanatical. But the Labour Right demonstrate that this assumption is nonsense. Just because their actual policy preferences tend to be the furthest from the extremes, it does not mean they are more tolerant or willing to compromise. On the contrary, their rejection of radical policies is so heavy-handed that it takes on an incredibly self-destructive form of fanaticism.

It is quite clear that Blue Labourites are terrified of the possibility of a Real Left Prime Minister, as it would prove their assumptions of the last thirty years have been completely wrong. Cognitive dissonance is an unpleasant sensation, and so they would rather hand the Tories another five years at Number 10 than accept that they made an enormous mistake moving to the right under Neil Kinnock, John Smith, and Tony Blair.

by Martin Odoni

Muslim scholar Salman Rushdie is mainly famous for being sentenced to death. In 1988, he wrote a novel called The Satanic Verses, which caused wide offence to many across the Islamic world. The following year, Rushdie became the subject of a Fatwa issued by the Clerical ruler of the Shi’a Republic of Iran, the Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini. To date, it has still not been officially withdrawn.

I tried reading The Satanic Verses back in the 1990s, and to be honest, I was unable to finish it. I might cope with it better today, given I would understand many of the symbolic references in it now more than I did then. But nonetheless, I found the book to be a little like Arthur Koestler’s Darkness At Noon, in that it is an overlong, uncompromisingly slow, and monotonous story that has received acclaim more for what it represents than for what it is.

The reason I mention the general ‘unreadability’ of Rushdie’s work is that I suspect his views are influential more because of his controversy, than because of his intellect. I am certainly not denying that Rushdie is a man of intellect, doubtless far greater than my own, but at the same time, that does not preclude a narrowness of perspective on his part. If he is controversial, the thinking seems to be, he must be ‘daring’, and he must have a perspective that is quite ‘outside-the-box’ in which everybody else’s thoughts are sealed.

However, Rushdie was making an appearance on Real Time With Bill Maher on Friday 15th of September, and one of the remarks he made suggested to me quite the reverse; that he is unimaginative, unquestioning of official narratives, and very conventional in his thinking.

It also made him sound quite absurd. Here is what he said, in reference to the defeat suffered by Hillary Clinton in last year’s US Presidential Election; –

“This problem where… there’s a section of the Left that wants the purest, more-snowy-than-driven-snow candidate… It’s not only a problem in this country. It’s a problem in England, where they want Jeremy Corbyn, who represents that ideal of ‘leftiness’, which can’t possibly be elected, or in France, the [Jean-Luc] Mélenchon people, who don’t want to vote for Macron, because he’s not purely left enough. And what all this does is to drive a wedge through which the right can come… We have to learn to distinguish between an imperfect friend and a deadly enemy.”

This is yet another example of centrists blaming the ‘real left’ for the accession to the US Presidency of Donald Trump. Not only is it incredibly patronising, it is quite a reversal of reality. Let us look closely at some of the real facts; –

Firstly, we can see on both sides of the Atlantic that the intolerance of a candidate outside a narrow ideological window is at least as prevalent in the centrist sphere as it is among real leftists. Furthermore, we see that the centrists are more willing to fight dirty to prevent or offload the outsider.

In the USA, the Democratic National Committee did all in its power short of breaking the letter of its own rules to prevent Bernie Sanders from winning the party’s nomination last year. The Committee was clearly dead-set against Sanders from the start, even though he consistently polled more positively in the head-to-head ratings against Trump than Clinton did. While no particular law, or even party rule, had been violated by the Democrats, they had rigged the contest in every way they could get away with – from deliberately scheduling debates between the candidates at times unfavourable to Sanders, to arranging so few debates that Sanders had little exposure compared with his already-famous opponent, to bizarre anomalies in votecasing machine behaviour – in order to secure the nomination for their ideological ‘soulmate’, Clinton.

One example of how hideously, and even anti-Semitically, opposed to Sanders the DNC have been is in the area of official merchandise during last year’s Primaries. There was a wide range of pro-Clinton goods for sale with DNC approval, but nothing promoting Sanders. Indeed the only item with a Sanders image was a grotesque parody of a Nazi-Germany-style caricature, portraying him as a sort of ‘Jewish rodent’ – see the bottom picture below.

21558602_500375020340296_2506010998552853663_n

As for in the UK, even before Jeremy Corbyn became Labour Party leader two years ago, the Blairites in the Parliamentary Party were already plotting to overthrow him. Once it became clear that Corbyn was going to win, many Shadow Cabinet members from Ed Miliband’s time in charge publicly spat-their-dummies-out, stating that they would never serve in a Corbyn Cabinet or Shadow Cabinet. Within minutes of Corbyn being declared leader, Jamie Reed announced his own resignation from the Shadow Cabinet. All of this had happened before Corbyn had even been given a chance to get started. Then, the PLP attempted to remove him in a notorious ‘chicken coup‘ last summer, the details of which were forewarned in the media nearly two months beforehand, giving the lie to claims by the plotters that the coup was not premeditated or orchestrated. The use of the Brexit referendum vote as the pretext for the coup was absurd, given Corbyn had devoted more campaign time to promoting a Remain vote than any other Labour member. Even so, Corbyn won the leadership contest again, and generously offered an olive branch to those who had betrayed him, only for more back-stabs to follow after the New Year. Since Corbyn’s superb General Election campaign performance this year produced the shock result of a Hung Parliament, the back-stabbing has quietened down, but one can sense the resentment still simmering below the surface even now.

Both the Democrats during last year’s Primaries, and the Labour Party in both leadership contests won by Corbyn, had purged huge numbers of voters from their registers, the vast majority every time being those from the real left. (In 2015, this led to the grotesque absurdity of a left-wing writer and campaigner, Kerry-Anne Mendoza, being barred from voting in the Labour leadership contest, while a former Tory Cabinet Minister was allowed to proceed.)

On this evidence, Rushdie really needs to explain how he has concluded that the rejectionism and ‘ideological puritanism’ (for want of a better term) is more prevalent among those further-left than it is among the centrists. There is an ugly element in the Momentum movement that does seem to take confrontations with other factions in the Labour Party to a fanatical extreme, but that element is not in the majority by a long way, and one could well argue in any event that it is only giving the centrists a taste of the medicine dished out the other way for over thirty years. In Rushdie’s own terms, the centrists view Sanders and Corbyn as ‘imperfect friends’, and undermine them and reject them far more frequently than vice versa, to the undiluted benefit of conservatives. And yet Rushdie has no apparent condemnation to offer when that happens.

Secondly, it is a wild exaggeration to call either Sanders or Corbyn ‘pure left’. They are not. Corbyn’s philosophy, as I have pointed out more than once, lies somewhere on the theoretical boundary between socialism and social democracy. Sanders, while very left-wing by US standards and calling himself a socialist, is also a social democrat – a couple of notches to the right of Corbyn on the old-style political spectrum. In wider-world terms, Sanders is probably more a centrist than a leftist himself. It is only because of the ridiculously narrow-right-wing focus of the Overton Window of the last forty years that either of them is seen as a ‘hard-left Marxist’. It would be an interesting-but-difficult task to establish for sure, but it seems likely that most of their supporters would probably oppose a lot of genuine hard-left policies; for instance, I doubt they would be eager for total state-ownership of all industry, land being divided into communes, or the abolition of major private property.

So there is no great appetite for ‘puritanical leftism’ from ‘Corbynistas’ or ‘Bernie-Bros’. There is just a wish for the left to rediscover its ambition again, instead of continuing the pusillanimous compromises of ‘The Third Way’, which largely just boil down to giving the poor slightly more of the crumbs that fall off the dinner table of the rich.

Thirdly, the blame-shifting of Clintonites is just more of the usual centrist emotional blackmail: “Support us or it will be your fault when someone from the right wing gets in.” Surely, by the same reasoning, the centrists should have supported Sanders in the first place, given that he was doing better in the polls than Clinton? And is it not completely disingenuous of the centrists that they keep blackmailing and scaremongering the left into backing their candidates, only then to claim subsequently that the real left obviously cannot win because centrists are the only Democrats/Labourites who seem to win these days? A self-fulfilling prophecy, if ever there was one.

Fourthly, Rushdie’s claim that Hillary Clinton is an “imperfect friend” of the Sanders support-base is really quite insulting. She and her allies effectively cheated the real left support out of their candidate’s chances of taking the Democrat nomination. They frequently smeared and falsely-accused the Sanders supporters of violent or intimidating behaviour, and Clinton was simply not offering them anything very much that they wanted. Sanders’ policy platform did noticeably drag Clinton unwillingly to the left somewhat, but, despite the claims in her semi-fictional new book, she had no Wall-Street-unfriendly ideas of her own. Why should Sanders supporters see her as a ‘friend’ of any degree of perfection, let alone reward her with their support, after her dishonesty, high-handedness, half-hearted approach to progressivism, and insulting accusations?

And finally, Rushdie insists that the sort of socialist/social-democratic philosophy that Sanders and Corbyn (and Jean-Luc Mélenchon) stand for “can’t possibly be elected”. He makes no coherent case for why anyone should assume that that is true. The odds are probably against it, I would agree, more due to opposition from influential rich and power-broking factions, especially in the media, but Rushdie argues that it is not even possible. That is ridiculous in any circumstances. In the current circumstances, with Corbyn’s Labour ahead in almost every UK opinion poll since mid-June, and Sanders the most popular politician in the USA by a country-mile, Rushdie’s assertion seems mildly deranged.

Of course, while Rushdie’s assertion is divorced from reality, it is very, very familiar, and this is why I say that he is unimaginative and unquestioning of official narratives; he is simply restating the perceived wisdom that has dominated the mainstream media and careerist-politician-speak on both sides of the Atlantic over the last two-and-a-half years. Both Sanders and Corbyn have been repeatedly written off as too old, too obscure, too obsolete, too eccentric, too naive, too unrealistic, and too much the outsiders. Rushdie has been so deafened by this official noise that he is unable to hear the news of what is really happening. Rushdie has failed to notice that Labour registered about forty-one per cent of the popular vote under Corbyn at the General Election in June, forced a Hung Parliament, and have been in front in the polls consistently since just a few days afterwards. Rushdie also failed to notice that Sanders closed a sixty-point gap behind Clinton to just two points, and was consistently rated above Trump in the head-to-heads, and so would surely be President by now, if only the DNC had allowed the nomination contest to unfold fairly and without interference.

Rushdie does not think outside the box at all, at least not when it comes to the struggles within the left. Instead, he toes the line of powerful interests, regurgitating the narrative that the media, and the Wall-Street-loyal elite within the Democratic Party, want everyone to believe. He does far worse than confuse an imperfect friend with a deadly enemy; he confuses a slightly-less-ruthless enemy with an imperfect friend, and mistakes centrism for some kind of ‘natural default’ in politics. And above all, he subscribes to the common fallacy that democracy means the electorate must follow the politicians, rather than the politicians having to offer the electorate what they want.

Centrism, forever patronising both the right and the left with exhortations to “grow up” and to try and be “realistic”, has some growing up of its own to do. Partly, it must learn that realism involves assessing what is happening in the physical world, rather than focusing on its assumptions about what ‘should’ happen. And more particularly, it has to find the maturity to recognise when it is throwing stones in a glass house.

by Martin Odoni

An occasional joke about voting for the old Liberal/SDP Alliance back in the 1980’s was that it was a vote for firm, concrete indecision. Perhaps a little unfair, but it has to be said there was an echo of truth in it. The two parties couldn’t decide whether they were right or left. They couldn’t decide whether they were the same or different. They couldn’t decide whether their leader was David Steel or David Owen. They couldn’t even decide whether they were the same party or a marriage of convenience between two parties.

 After dithering over these questions for seven full years, the parties finally merged into one in 1988, whereupon they couldn’t decide what name they would have. They started out deciding to be known as ‘The Social & Liberal Democrats’, but couldn’t decide whether they liked people calling them either that or ‘The SLD’, so decided not to make a decision on that, then after a few months, they decided that they hadn’t decided that after all, and instead decided that they would be decidedly happier if they decided that they would prefer it others decided simply to call them ‘Liberal Democrats’. Or ‘LibDems’, that would be okay too, but they couldn’t really decide which of the two names they liked best.

Nick Clegg, the current, decidedly unpopular, leader of the LibDems, has turned this record of indecision into an art-form. I’m pretty sure he never decided to, but it’s what he’s done anyway. As leader of his party at the 2010 General Election, he was decidedly opposed to almost every aspect of Conservative Party policy. And in the spirit of firm indecision, he therefore decided, after the Election resulted in an indecisively Hung Parliament, to form a Coalition with the Conservative Party. Well, he eventually did, after initially being unable to decide whether he wanted to form a Coalition with Labour instead; he probably wanted to side with Labour, but couldn’t decide, so for a few days he decided not to make a decision.

Having been made Deputy Prime Minister in the Coalition Cabinet, Clegg then showed all the decisiveness and consistency he was now legendary for, by supporting the Conservative policies he had spoken out so bitterly against, and helping to implement them against the students who had made up the core support that the LibDem vote had been built upon. This included deciding to help push through a rise in tuition fees that he had promised never to support. He might have apologised to his supporters for doing it, but couldn’t really decide whether that might just make them even angrier.

Clegg’s party also helped push through the notorious ‘Spare Room Subsidy’ or ‘Bedroom Tax’. This was because the LibDems realised that the Government needed more money, but they couldn’t decide whether it would be more effective and morally-better to try taking that money from people who actually possessed some, e.g. rich people, or from people who didn’t have the two proverbial ha’pennies to rub together. Being unable to decide what the correct answer would be to such a knotty conundrum, Clegg decided to let the Tories make that decision for him. So when the Tories came to the ‘wholly unexpected‘ (NOTE FOR THE HARD-OF-THINKING: we are now in the wildest throes of satire) conclusion that people without money are patently the most lucrative source of cash, Clegg appears to have said, “Well, who’d have thought the Tories of all people would make a call like that? Still I’m sure they’re doing it for totally unbiased reasons…” and from there he just let the Tories decide for him which policies to vote for.

Doggedly refusing to be diverted from his unswerving course of 180-degree turnarounds, Clegg broke new grounds in the cause of indecisiveness when he decided that he could continue to be indecisive even about policies that had already been decided upon and enforced. To this end, he put forward opposition to the Bedroom Tax he had helped implement as party policy, and then decided that he had not decided any such thing, but had merely put the idea out as a speculative question – one he then decided to answer himself with ‘no’. He then publicly spoke out vehemently against the Bedroom Tax, stating emphatically that it should be repealed. Then only yesterday, when Labour put forward a motion in the House Of Commons to repeal the Tax, Clegg once again impressed everyone with his capacity for not making up his mind about policies that he eagerly enforces while speaking out against them; he and his party quite naturally voted to keep the Bedroom Tax in place for the remainder of the current Parliament.

I’ve written before that if you vote for the Tories you vote for petulance. But the strange thing is – and it’s a painful lesson I have only learned myself during this Parliament – if you vote for the LibDems, you’re not really voting for anything in particular at all. This is because, in doing so, you vote for a party that claims to be centrist, but in fact doesn’t really know how much radicalism it is prepared to stomach. This means that in a Coalition, the LibDems can be dragged to quite shocking extremes, even though their rhetoric appears to be opposed to them. The hope when the Coalition was formed in 2010 was that the LibDems would function as a ‘drag-factor’ on Tory extremism and cruelty. In practise, they have scarcely caused the Tories pause for thought, and have shown a frightening willingness to sacrifice almost anything to get an agreement on a Referendum for a fairly minor electoral reform – a Referendum that ended in a ‘No’ vote in any event.

On the one hand, it could be seen as a symptom of maturity in British politics that the two parties were able to come to an agreement and form a Government; certainly that could never happen in the tribally-polarised USA, a fact so painfully evident there at the moment with one party holding both Houses, while the other party has the Presidency. Further, I am quite prepared to concede that the Coalition, for all of its amorality and ineptitude, has managed to hold together far longer than I was anticipating back in 2010. One could even argue that Clegg has shown a measure of loyalty by staying in Coalition and fulfilling his promises to support Tory legislation, even after the primary goal of electoral reform became plainly unachievable.

But on the other hand, it has come as a horrible shock over the last four-and-a-half years to learn just how much Nick Clegg and his party were prepared to concede in order to get a few seats in the Cabinet. So much, in fact, that none of their supposed principles of fairness and progressivism appear to have left any real mark on any of the more significant policies of the Coalition at all. Loyalty to Coalition allies is one thing, but loyalty to the voters who put their trust in Clegg in the first place has been painfully notable by its absence. By facilitating, where in the past they had voiced opposition, the LibDems have allowed themselves to be part of a Government more extreme and hard-right than even Margaret Thatcher’s administration had been when it had a comfortable single-party majority.

If being too quick to make decisions can cost you a lot of votes, letting someone else make all the decisions for you can cost you a lot of seats – especially if those decisions are immoral and incompetent – and this is why there is a real danger of the Liberal Democrats having a single-digit presence in the House Of Commons by next Autumn. They have been ineffectual on the issues people voted for them for, and have been dominated by the policies those same people voted against. So the Liberal Democrats have looked both treacherous and ineffectual, offering people nothing to vote for.

Centrism is not meant to be a synonym for indecision, nor one for ‘manoeuvrable’ loyalties, nor even one for blindly following someone else, but the LibDems have let it become all three. In so doing, and in allowing that indecision to become a tolerance of astonishing social cruelty by Government, they are now as morally-bankrupt and as unelectable as the Conservatives.