In today’s Observer, party president Tim Farron begins the year in chipper mood, pointing out that the political pundits are quick to predict the deaths of political parties, including the Lib Dems — yet we’ve endured it all to become now a party of government:
This year marks the 30th anniversary of Margaret Thatcher’s landslide, after which serious political commentators, including those writing for the Observer, speculated that Labour could never win again.
In March, we will observe the 10th anniversary of the invasion of Iraq, an illegal act by the Labour government, which was supported by the then Conservative opposition. The Tories managed to combine extremism with irrelevance; they subsequently found themselves in third place in the polls, written off by most pundits as incapable of ever governing again.
We will also mark the 25th anniversary of the acrimonious merger of the Liberals and the SDP, which formed the Liberal Democrats. After the chaos of the merger process, the Liberal Democrats were dismissed as doomed by anyone who knew anything about politics, especially after a poll in the Observer recorded a historic 0% for the Lib Dems.
The Liberal Democrats of today are subject to similar apocalyptic predictions. Those who foresee our demise are just as likely to be proved wrong as those who wrote off Labour, Conservatives and Lib Dems in the past.
And it’s clear he got the memo stressing how Lib Dems are anchoring the government in the centre ground, ‘that only the Lib Dems can build a strong economy and a fairer society’. Here’s how Tim couches it:
After 65 years in the wilderness, the Liberal Democrats found themselves in government at just the right time for the UK. Our economy was on life support and our society increasingly unfair. In coalition, the Liberal Democrats have focused on rescuing the economy from meltdown, while ensuring that our recovery is fair. Our flagship achievement of cutting income tax for ordinary people by raising the threshold at which you start paying income tax has both boosted spending in the economy and made our country fairer. A party with a platform of demonstrating both competence and compassion is in a unique position in British politics.
You can read Tim Farron’s piece in full here.