We have to make this work

A few Labour bloggers and twitterers are crowing about Lib Dems ripping up their membership cards and joining the Labour Party. I don’t buy it, frankly. I’m sure there are a few, just as there are a few every time we update our policy in contentious areas. But not many.

To be a Lib Dem who doesn’t agree with the new politics is to fundamentally have misunderstood what being a Lib Dem means. Central to our manifesto in every year of our existence has been our commitment for fair votes (proportional representation). If you believe in PR, then by definition, you believe that the old two party seesaw was bad. By definition, you accept that the result of a fairer voting system would be a greater chance of coalition government. Nick Clegg made it abundantly clear during the campaign that he was willing to work with other parties in the event of a balanced parliament. Furthermore, he said several times that the party which got the most votes would have the greatest moral authority to try to form a government.

No-one has been betrayed. If you voted Lib Dem, you can be assured that our negotiating team ensured that a fair proportion of Lib Dem policies made it into the coalition agreement. In fact, the Conservatives have been more accommodating than most of us could have imagined they would. For what it’s worth, I would far rather have a Tory government moderated by the Liberal Democrats, than one which was unfettered. And deep down surely most Labour supporters can see that too?

I still dream of a fully proportional parliament for this country. That would be a parliament where coalitions would be a regular feature. Proponents of first past the post will be hoping this coalition fails, so that they can say “we told you so”.

For the sake of the future of our democracy, we must make sure that it succeeds.