2010 was the year the Lib Dems grew up
December 31, 2010 § 1 Comment
How many Lib Dems, even in their wettest of wet dreams, at the start of 2010 would have dared to believe that by the end of it (indeed, the middle of it) we’d be full partners in the first Coalition Government since the 2nd World War?
Who would have thought that a Liberal Democrat Deputy Prime Minister would have addressed politicians and diplomats, from around the world, at the United Nations headquarters in New York?
You’d have probably been derided as an overoptimistic fool if you’d have envisioned a year where countless Lib Dem manifesto policies have been put into action:
From the pupil premium, to taking many of the lowest paid workers out of tax altogether, to action on Climate Change, to delaying a decision over replacing Trident and on and on.
Who’d have believed, at the start of the year, that our Leader would have lit up the election campaign with his peerless performances in the first ever TV leaders’ debates in a UK general election?
We Liberal Democrats…all of us!…should be proud that all of this…I say again, all of this, has come to pass.
This has been a remarkable, historic year for our beloved party.
Have we faced difficulties? Yes, of course.
Have we made some very tough choices? Most certainly.
Will we have upset some people? It was inevitable.
But I would argue that this was the year our party-22 years old in its modern form-finally grew up.
It left its impossibly idealistic teenage years way behind it and is beginning to realise that hard, raw politics is about-like it or not-having to be both idealistic and pragmatic…it’s about the ‘art of the possible.’
As Barack Obama recently said in an interview with Jon Stewart on the brilliant Daily Show:
“Yes we can, but…”
Well if the most idealistic (at least in terms of rhetoric) politician of our age is having to qualify people’s hopes and expectations then we shouldn’t be surprised that Clegg and Cameron are having to do the same here.
There’s no doubt at all that the tuition fees issue has been damaging for our party and for our party leadership-and I disagreed with it-but, in a sense, it was the decision which showed just how much the Liberal Democrats have grown up.
Look, for decades we could be as idealistic as we wanted, we could promise the world, because-in our heart of hearts-we never expected to get anywhere near being in Government.
Now, that is all changed. So, yes, its a tough old learning curve for our party and some people may never forgive us…whether it be for joining a Coalition with the Tories or supporting a policy we had expressly campaigned against…but, I tell you, in time we’ll get the support of plenty more people who used to consider voting Lib Dem to be a waste or used to think we were a joke of a party.
Today, whatever you think about some of the decisions being taken by Lib Dem Ministers and Secretaries of State, you can no longer claim, with any credibility at least, that we are not to be taken seriously.
So, no doubt there are more tough days ahead but we should be proud of how far we’ve come this year.
Happy New Year to all of my readers!