Almost two years ago I struggled to see the upside of a five year coalition deal for the Lib Dems and as the coalition government stands ready to pass the NHS reform bill and strong rumours abound about a cut in the 50p top rate of tax, today I fear for the future of the Lib Dem party.
Almost two years into the coalition we are seeing a government that legislates from the right on all major issues be it tuition fees, the NHS and now possibly the 50p top tax rate. It seems to me that the public at large has been disabused of the feeling that under Nick Clegg the Lib Dems are a centre-left party that could mitigate some of Camerons Thatcherite tendencies.
All the Lib Dems seem to have achieved is to provide a thin patina of one nation conservatism to what is really Thatcherism lite. The Lib Dems under Clegg seem to have made a strategic decision to go all in on Tory economic and social policy and I really struggle to see the upside for the Lib Dems.
It is possible, Nick Cleggs calculation is that by the next election in 2015, the economy will have rebounded (I have my doubts about that) and the Lib Dems will glean the benefits of this economic rebound. I think he will be disappointed, he will most likely lose centre right voters who will return to the Tory fold as it becomes more and more difficult to differentiate between the Lib Dems under Clegg and the Tories under Cameron. And if you can not differentiate between the two why would you vote for Cameron lite.
As for those on the left of the political spectrum they have already left the party in droves and I see nothing that Clegg can do whilst still in coalition with the Tories to win them back.
I fear that the long lasting effect of the coalition Government will be to set the Lib Dems back a decade as an effective third party and such an outcome would be bad for British Democracy.