To say last night was tough is impossibly underestimating the scale of the defeat in this election. A majority for any party was thought ridiculous, let alone a Tory one. That Labour have lost seats overall is astonishing. That the Lib Dems have only 8 seats, none of them held by women, is unthinkable.
Each Lib Dem MP who has lost their seat means that an excellent local community campaigner won’t be able to answer casework enquires this morning, every lost MP means that hardworking, dedicated and diligent staff are now staring into the face of redundancy. Phone calls from constituents are ringing out, MP’s will be winding down their offices and the Liberal voice in the country is diminished.
I’ve had the pleasure to work with some of the most dedicated MP’s, researchers and caseworks who have worked a hard slog for their communities for years with passion and a belief in helping people with no expectation of recognition or reward. They are the best of our party and they did not deserve this result.
The decision to enter Coalition was right then and it is right now. Because of Liberals the economy did not crash, because of Liberals millions of lower paid people were taken out of income tax, because of Liberals millions of under privileged kids get more funding at school, because of Liberals those kids get free school meals, because of Liberals there are 2 million more jobs, millions of apprentice places, a green investment bank, funding for renewable energy.
Because of Liberals we have equal marriage, action on FGM. Because of Liberals pensions are now linked to earnings. Because of Liberals there was a net increase in social housing. Liberals brought in shared parental leave, scrapped ID cards, stopped the detention of child asylum seekers and cut the period of detention without trial.
That is a record to be proud of. That we were unable to get that across, that people stopped listening, is the key thing we need to address as a party, the Tories have taken credit for the work Liberals sacrificed and fought for.
Britain now has a wafer thin Tory Majority Government making concessions not to Liberals but their rabid right wing. It seems strange that people were so against a ‘Tory led’ government that they would wipe out the Lib Dems and give the Tories a majority, but for every voter satisfied that the Lib Dems have been punished there is another waking up to the grim reality of the Tories off the leash.
There was value in the Lib Dems being in government, it protected the weak from the worst excesses of austerity. That protection no longer exists. The Lib Dems need to rebuild and every time a Tory Minister announces swinging cuts, draconian laws or regressive policies they will hand us a weapon to use:
“We would have stopped this.”
The people of Britain will yet see what exactly it was the Lib Dems did for them. If you have any liberal inclination whatsoever, if you have any desire to see a fairer Britain, if in the coming days you rage against a Tory Government ravaging all that is decent and fair, remember the Coalition, and help us rebuild.