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What's Left for the Lib Dems?

22/06/2014 23:39 BST | Updated 22/08/2014 10:59 BST

If you're on the left-wing of the Liberal Democrats, things are looking pretty desperate right now. Having been led by a small cabal of Orange Bookers into a suicide pact with their Tory equivalents, supporters are fleeing the party.

Strapped to the zombified body of Thatcherism, dedicated Liberal Democrats have been beaten into fifth and sixth place by the protest parties de jour, UKIP and the Greens.

Come 2015 and years of climbing up the greasy electoral pole will be forgotten as they are slapped back down to 1980's levels of inconsequence.

The rank and file were promised by their dear leader that the public would respect that they had acted in the public interest. This might have been true had they not presided over the slowest economic recovery in Britain for a century.

What other golden achievements can their membership parade? The goal of electoral reform has disappeared for another three decades, their student base alienated and the NHS set firmly on course for privatisation.

All this from a party that ran port side of Labour at the last election. So is there anything left for the left of the Lib Dems? Unless you count possibility of being hand luggage in a Labour or Conservative coalition, then no.

What are the alternatives for dissatisfied Lib Lefties who want to express their politics through party membership? They could rejoin the ghost of the SDP, no really they still exist, or choose principled powerlessness again, and join the authoritarian Greens. Perhaps the hardest to stomach would be joining Labour.

The break away Social Democratic Party and Labour are like a couple who married too young and only to rediscover each other in later life. Labour was too militant, too influenced by his union friends for his Socialist Democrat partner. So she left, only to have her head turned by a liberal older man.

Divorce shook Labour into sorting their life out but it went too far with mid-life crisis getting too cosy with big business and an American friend. Sadly for the SDP, their relationship has started to crumble as their partner jumped into bed with the first Conservative to give them the eye.

Both sides matured, having both experienced the complexity of power, so perhaps it's time for them to reunite. Can both sides put the past behind them and work together towards social democracy?

Some barriers have already fallen by the wayside. Labour has moved to the centre of the left ditching the illiberal ID cards policy and the worst excesses of Blairism. Militant and chums are long gone and the relationship with Unions has been reformed.

Labour has challenged the vested interests of Murdoch, the Daily Mail and Big Energy firms. Ed Miliband has promised to Scrap the Bedroom Tax, repeal the Lobbying Act (Gagging Bill) and the Health Act 2012.

Can Labour do better, yes, but only with the help of a broad and involved membership who seek out common ground to achieve greater goals. Social Liberalism is a part of the Labour movement tradition and can have a louder voice from within, rather than from the outside.

As the second wave of Neo-Thatcherism assaults the last vestiges of Britain's social justice apparatus, the Liberal Left have to ask themselves, which is the better vehicle to take them on? Is it a party who will effectively be on bricks for at least a decade or the sometimes misguided but always moving forward Labour?

No more dodgy bar graphs and misleading 'Winning Here' signage but instead a chance to be part of an effective opposition and, within a year, a democratic socialist government.

Perhaps the only stumbling block is the shadow of the Iraq War but then it was the grassroots of both parties who marched together against it.

There might be a romantic heroism in going down with the ship but too many British people are drowning to not jump ship and start a rescue operation. The values that bind should be stronger than the history that divides us.