The Liberal Phoenix rising from the ashes
We begin back at the General Election of 2010, the nation swung from the Gordon Brown’s Labour party to the fresh-faced Eton educated Conservative David Cameron. However, the young Tory hadn’t achieved enough seats to govern alone. What played out for the following five days seemed to resemble something of a political drama. The top three parties in the U.K. negotiating to see who will lead the country. Essentially it was a cat fight over who the Liberal Democrats will form a coalition with. In the end, the Liberal’s leader Nick Clegg chose to jump into bed with the Conservative party and shared an infamous to many Lib Dem votes, handshake outside number ten with Mr. Cameron.
Many thought that a government that seemed to merge two opposing parties together wouldn’t last. They believed there would be a massive falling out between senior figures and the whole thing would fall into a political turmoil. Nevertheless, the coalition Parliament lasted its full term. However, there were some heavy bumps and bruises sustained along the way by the Liberal Democrats. One major broken pledge in the Lib Dem manifesto was that ‘they would oppose any rise in university tuition fees.’ This shattered promise saw students descend onto the capital to protest a rise from £3,200 to £9,000. This promise led to further pain at the ballot box with the party almost being wiped out of Westminster in 2015. Even now after the 2017 election, the party of Tim Farron’s has not been able to take back the seats it had lost.
After a change in leadership from Clegg to Farron, to an old face who once served in that coalition government Cabinet that nearly confined his party to the electoral graveyard.
Old dog; New tricks
Sir Vince Cable was the Business Secretary during the coalition government, whose keen eye for the markets enabled him to predict the financial crash. A distinguished member of Parliament, having been first elected in 1997 only to lose his seat in the 2015 Lib Dem purge, however, due to a surge in distrust in Mrs. May’s Conservatives, was able to regain his Twickenham seat. Sir Vince had previously acted as an interim leader of the Liberal Democrats after Sir Menzies Campbell stepped down in 2007. He is now the new leader of the party after the resignation of Tim Farron. Sir Vince has also suffered the loss of his first wife Olympia through cancer, despite remarrying ‘he wears the wedding rings from both of his marriages.’
Sir Vince completely backs his party on anti-Brexit and a second vote on the terms of leaving the EU. He has recently described many older voters who wanted to leave the EU as ‘shafting’ the young. Sir Vince is also highlighting here the breakdown in a difference between the demographics of old and young voters. Highlighting that young people wanted to remain part of the European Union whilst a majority of older voters wanted to leave.
By appearing to fight for the views of younger voters, Sir Vince is aiming to appeal to the same group of people who voted for the first time in the recent General Election through a promise by Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour party to ‘abolish tuition fees’.
Anti-Brexit party in a post-Brexit country
With so much confusion in the political establishment surrounding Brexit and how it’s done is as clear as day; Britain will leave the European Union. It is the ambiguous statement that has sustained the right wing of the Conservative party and therefore keeping Theresa May’s premiership. The Liberal Democrats have taken their firm stance as the anti-Brexit party, through the embodying of many EU values of openness and tolerance. The General Election highlighted further divisions in this country, not just of being a ‘Remainer’ or ‘Leaver’ but on how we leave and on what terms will our future relationship with our European partners. These wounds of divisions will not be solved through dodgy dealings in Whitehall and Brussels, as the people of power chop and trade away our lives. Brexit is an enormity of a political beast and the only way it can be slain is through serious, bipartisan, adult discussion. After, unlike a General Election, after five years we can’t simply change our minds and rejoin the European Union. This is a constitutional amendment, something usually very difficult to achieve, and even more problematic to turn the table on to reverse.
The Brexit debate is the political revolution that could no longer be contained in the establishment walls of Westminster. The referendum and the election showed the divides in our country, divides that echo tribal loyalty to one side of a political belief over another.