The rise of the Liberal Democrats?
Britain’s Chernenko: the dead leader of a dead country
As the Mail tells us:
[Y]ou have to go back to 1906, before opinion polls or television existed, for the last time the Liberals had the most popular support.I didn’t realize until reading that passage, and then checking Wikipedia, that the Liberal Democrats—that irrelevant leftist third party whose leaders we’ve heard wasting oxygen in the House of Commons the last twenty years—are descended from the old Liberal Party, one of the two main parties in Britain in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, when it was led by such notables as Gladstone, Asquith, and Lloyd-George. As mentioned in the Mail, the Liberals reached their apogee in the huge election landslide of 1906 and ruled Britain for the next decade. They went into eclipse after about 1920, when the Marxist-based Labor Party replaced them as one of the two major parties. However, the Liberal Party did not (as I had thought) go out of existence, but remained as a third party in the House of Commons. Then in 1988 it joined with the Social Democratic Party (SDP), a Labor breakaway group, to form the Liberal Democrats. (Also, there is a tiny Liberal Party which never accepted the merger with the SDP and remains in existence to this day.)
Like its descendant, the Liberal Democrats, the Liberal Party itself was formed by a coalition of parties, in the mid 19th century, between the Whig Party and the Peelites, a group led by former Tory Prime Minister Robert Peel who had broken with the Conservatives by supporting free trade. The Liberal Democrats thus have a descent that goes all the way back to the Revolution of 1688, when parliament displaced the monarchy as the ruling power in Britain and the Whigs, who had led the revolution, largely ruled England for the next century.
But, as I always say, liberalism keeps moving to the left, and I have no notion of how the Liberal Democrats, a party of the left, differ in any significant way from Labor. For that matter, I have no notion of how the Conservative Party, which is now a party of the left, differs in any significant way from Labor.
Some of the Lefties’ triumphalism at the public reaction to The Great TV Debate was wildly overdone. You might have thought that Cameron broke down and cried, or shouted “We’re all doomed”. He didn’t. He held his own and scored points on the NHS and even, unlikely as it was, on immigration.
Posted by Lawrence Auster at April 18, 2010 03:17 PM | Send