6. An Idealistic Assessment
An exposition of an idealist’s view on all this is available, ironically from the same newspaper that carried Grice’s article:
“Solemn pledges to the electorate to do the opposite – to phase tuition fees out – which won marginal seats for the Liberal Democrats and put them into this Coalition in the first place, mean absolutely nothing, apparently. Indeed, manifestos mean nothing.”
Simon Szreter, writing in the Independent on 13 December, is scathing in his criticism of Clegg, the LibDem leadership, and the Coalition:
“It has been this new politics of bare-faced lying to the electorate, led by Nick Clegg, which has generated the level of outrage against undemocratic policies…We are in danger of entering a downward spiral of mutual distrust and disrespect… The Coalition is founded on deceit and disrespect for the electorate.”
Szreter (Professor of History and Public Policy at Cambridge University) wants the party to go back to the country, rather than moderating its policies in preparation for Coalition. He urges:
“We must try again. This time the parties must tell us exactly what their coalition positions are in advance of the vote, in addition to their manifestos for sole rule.”
Szerter does not quite spell out the material ‘damage’ of this episode to the LibDem cause. Certainly it’s a moral outrage, but what are the downsides for the perpetrators?
Perhaps pragmatists can afford a smug look.
Not so, in my opinion.