Lib Dem Watch has been out and about, busily fighting the third party in constituencies across the country.
In the election aftermath the focus has been on Labour and the Conservatives, but little had been said of the Liberal Democrat result.
Despite all the talk of a major breakthrough the Liberal Democrats managed to increase their number of seats in Parliament by just 11 to 62.
Millionaires Lynne Featherstone and John Hemming showed that persistence and a well-funded campaign can pay off by finally getting elected, but the Lib Dems also lost five seats to the Conservatives – Devon West & Torridge, Guilford, Ludlow, Newbury and Weston-super-Mare. They failed again to take Birmingham Hodge Hill and lost Leicester South back to Labour.
Many of the seats the Lib Dems did take – like Bristol West, Cardiff Central, Leeds North West and Manchester Withington – were in university seats where they were propelled by an anti Iraq and anti tuition fees vote. It is unlikely that such a swing will exist at the next election making the seats difficult for the Lib Dems to hold.
So despite the alleged disillusionment with the two main parties, despite Iraq and the best possible conditions for a third party to make a breakthrough the Liberal Democrats still couldn’t do it. Some argued that the Liberal Democrats had a great opportunity, but they missed their chance.
Exposing the real policies of the Liberal Democrats didn’t help the party. Their liberal approach to crime, drugs and anti-social behaviour damaged the Lib Dems where they tried to take seats from Labour. Their high tax policies and the local income tax in particular prevented them taking seats from the Conservatives.
The General Election has proved that the Liberal Democrats cannot continue to be all things to all people, saying one thing in one constituency and the exact opposite in another. So Liberal Democrat Watch wishes Charles Kennedy well in his review of party policy.
We also wish the party well in the future – at this rate of gains the Liberal Democrats may become the government. But not for another 25 general elections. Sadly, Lib Dem Watch may no longer be around in 2130.