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The Lib Dems should have got my vote, but they won’t

Photo by Mike Kemp/In Pictures via Getty Images

December 5, 2019 - 12:46pm

I used to enjoy general elections but, I suppose like Bond films, they’re those big national events that just get less inspiring the older you get. The day after the surprise 2015 result was the funniest in social media history; I actually had a side I wanted to win and we did, luckily avoiding those years of chaos under Ed Miliband.

Now, I think like a lot of people, I just feel there are different variations of terrible; the Conservative slogan, “Get Brexit Done”, works a couple of times because that’s how a lot of people reluctantly feel, but after a while it just inspires a sense of gloom, because it won’t just be done. It’ll still drag on. Corbyn winning would be genuinely catastrophic and even the fact that half of the people in my city will vote for the man fills with me with despair.

And then there’s the Lib Dems. I voted for them last time, because they seemed the most moderate on the key national issue, and I should have been low hanging fruit for the next one. As a wavering and disillusioned EFTA Leaver I felt that the Remain-voting Theresa May was overcompensating with a hard Brexit, and showed a lack of charity and warmth towards our neighbours, starting with her failure to guarantee the status of 3m EU citizens.

Since then, however, the Lib Dems have gone on a determined and unwavering path to becoming the most repulsive manifestation of the demented #FBPE crowd.

First there was “Bollocks to Brexit”, a slogan that had the virtue of being clear but was completely lacking in any wit and intelligence. Educated people swearing to sound outraged or funny can be very effective, but it works about 3% of the time; otherwise it just sounds rude and embarrassing.

Much worse was the party’s inexplicable decision to opt for revoke rather than a second referendum if they won a majority.

Sure, they won’t win a majority, but why say it then and show contempt for the democratic system? A second referendum would be hellish, but the political consequences of simply ignoring the vote would be worse. And then last night Jo Swinson went and suggested that 16-year-olds might be able to vote in any second referendum.

Again, why? Votes for 16-year-olds might be Lib Dem policy — a very bad one — but surely she must see that for a second vote to end this impasse, it must have legitimacy? If a referendum is seen as fixed, by a change to the franchise, the political legitimacy of the system will suffer terribly.

This is before we get into the radical culture wars stuff, such as their madcap gender recognition policy, or the American-style stuff about “six old white men” deciding Brexit, exactly the kind of uncharitable and tedious rhetoric British politics could really do without.

So it’s the Alien v Predator v Terminator election – whoever wins, we lose. Unless no one wins, in which case we lose even more. Which is why, I suppose, I’ll be voting Conservative.

Ed West’s book Tory Boy is published by Constable


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