This blogpost is the first of a four part series, and the second part will be published tomorrow.
Further to my rage-fuelled spontaneous combustion last week, I thought I would write a somewhat more thought-out explanation as to why I was planning to leave the Liberal Democrats even before I was so offended by the insinuations that one of my friends quit the party over personal issues rather than politics. The reason I was so offended was not necessarily that one of my friends was insulted, although I was annoyed by that, but because the means by which the Liberal Democrats intend to ruin people’s lives and end not a few of them is SO FRICKING OBVIOUS, it defies belief that anyone could suggest that someone upset by the scale of destruction about to be unleashed is evidently just using the cuts as an excuse for something else. What an inverted pyramid of piffle (Boris Johnson being far more polite than me).
Now, I’m not one of those far lefties who live in some sort of dreamworld where cuts never need to happen, tube cleaners should be paid £3000 a week and the front-bench should be made up solely of women for the next thousand years to make up for patriarchy. We do have a deficit, we are paying £120 million a day to pay for it, and something does need to be done. What I do fail to understand, however, is why exactly the deficit needs to be reduced at the expense of the sick, elderly, young, disabled, and seemingly anyone who needs government assistance to get by.
Because it won’t be Nick Clegg who won’t be able to send his kids to school because they can’t afford to pay for the bus. And it won’t be Danny Alexander, the Chief Secretary to the Treasury, who has to choose between food and heating after having to pay his increased rents because of cuts to social housing. It won’t be Chris Huhne, the climate change minister, who sits at home in his own urine because he can’t afford to pay for a personal assistant when he needs it.
Note that I used Liberal Democrats as my examples there. I’m not surprised in the slightest that the Tories are bringing in such changes, because that’s what they do, and I’ve never known a Tory besides myself who had the slightest understanding that people on benefits are there because they need help to survive; and I promptly quit when I realised that Tories don’t quite live on the same planet as the rest of us.
But I joined the Liberal Democrats because I read their tax policy (I’m not kidding) and I thought it was great, I thought it was fair, and I thought it was a vast improvement on the excessively complicated system Gordon Brown had brought in to exercise his brain. I believe in human rights, civil liberties, and a “fair, free and open society… in which no-one will be enslaved by poverty, ignorance, or conformity”. That’s the preamble to the Liberal Democrat Federal Constitution, and it’s a cool statement. I believed in that. I still believe in that. But because I believe in that, I can’t be a Liberal Democrat. And I honestly don’t understand why anyone else who believes in that could keep up their membership either.
Out of the six of my friendship group who joined the Liberal Democrats from March last year, I am the last to leave. While speaking to people who have remained members about why they’ve chosen to stay, there are two main responses. One is “yes, I am absolutely horrified, but the Liberal Democrats are staving off the worst of it, surely we need to stay and try to fend off what we can?” I could subscribe to that view, if that was what was happening. But did those of you who believe that miss Nick Clegg and Vince Cable overriding party policy and approved increasing the debts of students by tens of thousands of pounds? Just how much worse could it have been under the Tories? This coalition isn’t a battle between scissor-happy Tories vs. plucky Liberal Democrats salvaging what they can – they’re both at it, and they’re going to cause massive, irreversable, potentially deadly, hardship to millions and millions of people.
The second response is “OMG, yay, we’re in government, isn’t this amazing!! What do you mean, hitting the poorest hardest? How much Liberal Democrat policy have we passed since we’ve been in government? How much would we have passed in opposition? We’re doing our bit. Yay government, we’re in government, woohoo! This is so cool!” I don’t like these people. Unfortunately they’re generally elected officials.
The thing is, I like a smaller state. I like “cutting waste”, I like the bonfire of the quangos and I like lowering taxation where possible. The Liberal Democrats like that too, that’s why I joined them. The part where we start to diverge is when the Liberal Democrats now seem to define waste as “poor people”. And I can’t be a part of that.
But what exactly am I talking about? This blogpost is entitled “Why the Coalition is Going to Kill People”, but when I started to write it, it rapidly became several thousand words long. I have therefore broken it down into four parts. This introductory blogpost, has, I hope, established why I have left the party for ideological rather than personal reasons. The next two parts, “What’s Affected by the Cuts?” and “Who’s Affected by the Cuts?” will explain to people who might not be aware, especially those Liberal Democrats who continue to support the coalition government, exactly why people’s lives are in danger because of the Liberal Democrat supported-Coalition Programme. And finally, “Other Parties Helped!” will cover why joining the Labour Party is a short-sighted response and why I’m not planning to join any other parties in the future. So join me tomorrow for more fury, and this time, some facts.