Sunday, 19 September 2021
The Guardian has endorsed the Liberal Democrat strategy of going after former Conservative voters who dislike spending money on beastly little common people. Well, of course. And Andrew Rawnsley agrees. Well, of course.
There was much hullabaloo when The Guardian endorsed the Lib Dems in 2010, but that was the third General Election in a row at which it had done so, as had always been its norm. It was the endorsement of Labour in 1997 that had been an oddity. It had opposed the creation of the National Health Service on eugenic grounds, and it had therefore advocated a vote for the Conservatives in 1951.
Still, say what you like about The Guardian, and I certainly do, but it was only 60 years ago this month that it even started to be printed in London. Before that, it had been one of several purely Mancunian newspapers. Yet now, it is namechecked in Hollywood films on the assumption that a global mass audience will know what it was, and an entire generation of journalism students will settle for nothing else as a career goal. Make of any of that what you will, but there we are.
As to the Lib Dems, they were such stalwarts of the County Durham Teaching Assistants' campaign, which the results on Super Thursday may reasonably be said to have reactivated, that even I voted in 2017 for Owen Temple rather than for the lukewarm Laura Pidcock. And I have nothing but goodwill towards any administration that has overthrown the corrupt and brutal right-wing Labour machine in County Durham after more than 100 years.
But it was the Conservatives who were the moderating party in the Coalition. However slowly or slightly, austerity did begin to be eased once the Cabinet no longer contained the most direct and explicit heirs of the Whigs, of the Gladstonians, and of the Callaghan Government, including the Lib-Lab Pact.
Ever since the 2016 referendum, it has been obvious that there was a natural party of the well heeled, NIMBYish, Thatcherite, socially ultraliberal, and ferociously pro-EU section of the electorate. Had the 2015 Parliament run its course, then the Lib Dems would have taken scores of seats from the Conservatives in the South outside London, where such voters did and do predominate and even dominate. In 2024, they finally will.
Not that Boris Johnson needs to worry. The Conservatives will remain in office, not only by holding their gains from 2019, but by offsetting their losses to the Lib Dems with seats that had voted twice for Jeremy Corbyn's economic programme, as the 2019 seats would also have done if Corbyn had held the Bennite line against Keir Starmer on Brexit. The people and places that had long ago voted three times for Margaret Thatcher will be Lib Dem, and the Conservative Government will owe them nothing. It will owe us instead. It already does. Let's fill our boots.