Consistency has never been regarded as an important virtue in politics: this has been well illustrated with the publication of the LibDem manifesto. Their underlying stance represents a complete reversal of the position they adopted before the 2010 election. When they entered that election they had no prospects of participation in government: they could say what they liked and did. Specifically they recklessly promised to abolish student fees and accompanied it with a sanctimonious campaign that they alone kept their promises. By contrast this time their manifesto is a plea to hang on to their office: ‘a coalition of conscience’.
Here in North Norfolk our defending MP, the very ambitious Norman Lamb, attempted to justify this volte-face at a recent hustings meeting. Without doubt he is articulate but he was really struggling. He appeared to support unequivocally the coalition’s economic policies of austerity and expressed no views on the causes of that crisis. He does however seek wherever possible to distance himself from the consequences of those policies – the cuts in social services and welfare provision.
Sadly the only conclusion is that it doesn’t matter what direction the bus is heading so long as he has a seat on the top deck. Not surprisingly a future coalition has immense appeal.