Today’s news: Nick Clegg sold the NHS.
Worse: Nick Clegg sold the NHS, and got nothing in return.
The Times has the story. After the humiliation of the Lib Dems in the electoral reform referendum, Cameron gave Clegg another shot. He could choose another change in policy, and get the Prime Minister’s backing:
The Conservatives thought Mr Clegg would aim high, perhaps asking them to drop the troubled Health and Social Care Bill, a recommendation they would have acepted readily.
Instead Mr Clegg and his team came back with only two demands: ltax-raising powers for local councils and help in making Lords reform finally happen
Personally, I’m furious that Clegg would sell out the NHS in favour of Lords reform. You can’t say it’s backhanded: the one unchanging fact about his party is their obsession with electoral reform. I’m pretty sure that the rest of the country, of all political stripes, cares more about doctors than Lords.
But, weren’t the Liberal Democrats supposed to be good at coalitions? That’s what they claimed at the last election: to have strategised every possibility, and to be ready to punch above their weight through their deep understanding of coalition politics.
Since then, they’ve spectacularly messed up. Their main demand was, not PR, but a referendum on PR. That is, a referendum they were sure to lose. It was a miscalculation, obvious at the time, and which can be blamed squarely on the top of the party. And then this: choosing a distant and unenforceable promise over saving the NHS.
So all in all, this party aren’t just obnoxious. They’re obnoxious and incompetent.