LIBERAL DEMOCRATS HAVE LITTLE TO BE GLEEFUL ABOUT
BOURNEMOUTH will be turned into Remoanerland-on-sea this weekend when the Lib Dems roll up for their annual get-together. Under their new leader Sir Vince Cable, the yellow party has so far stayed as wrapped in the blue EU flag as it was under his predecessor Tim Farron. Bloodchilling claims about the supposed disaster of Brexit are expected to be all the rage at the convention centre over the coming week; doom-mongering has long been Sir Vince’s greatest skill.
Lib Dem activists traditionally hold a “Glee Club” revue during their conference but have little to be gleeful about. The party’s fanatical pro-EU pitch at the general election led to a drop in vote share at the poll. The dozen Lib Dem MPs in the Commons remain an insignificant rump.
Sir Vince will use his conference speech to claim that the political centre – between Tory Brexiteers and Jeremy Corbyn’s hard-Left dominated Labour Party – is there for the taking. The problem for him is that commitment to the cause of keeping Britain in the EU is bound to become an increasingly fringe opinion as the country quits the European bloc, just like a belief in nationalising industry faded out of mainstream politics during the 1980s. The Lib Dem leader has admitted that European Commission president Jean-Claude Juncker’s rampantly federalist “state of the union” speech to the European Parliament this week bordered on the “extreme”. Few voters are likely to be attracted by the vision of super-state headed by a single president set out by Mr Juncker in his tirade in Strasbourg. Sir Vince’s admission suggests that he may be looking for a different direction to take his party. His critics will wonder whether someone who has been at the top of the party for so long has the imagination or ambition to strike out on a new path.
There is little sign that the Lib Dems have grasped the fact that the political centre is slipping away from their grasp. As long as the Lib Dems remain obsessed with trying to reverse Brexit, they are going nowhere other than their own miserable Remoanerland.