The Natural Law Party was one of those ‘gag’ parties that entertain us during the festivals of democracy and freedom we enjoy as general elections. Based on the principles of transcendental meditation, their cut-through message was about the benefits of yogic flying, where a person could levitate while in the lotus position using the power of thought. Interesting in principle, the reality caught on film depicted people flipping themselves skywards using their knees.
Despite the demise of the yogic flyers, we still enjoy parties that function according to natural laws. You may recognise some of them.
The Conservatives are the natural party of government. Based on pragmatic concepts grounded more in reality than in ideology, the Tories remain the most successful political party in history for governing in the national interest instead of for a utopian ideal. Despite the rise of Labour following the extension of the franchise, they dominated 20th century British politics and seem set to do the same in the 21st.
Labour is, by contrast, the natural party of opposition. Between 1922 and 1997, all ten leaders of the Conservatives became Prime Minister. In the same period, only four Labour leaders out of twelve in total got the top job. Labour only achieves office when the Conservatives are exhausted after being in office for so many years without allowing themselves a period of renewal. Labour only governs for no more than six years in a row while the Conservatives recharge their batteries and bring in new blood.
The exception to this rule is the Blair period. However, this is hardly an exception as Blair shifted his party to the right and carried forward the Thatcher reforms, as well as having a robust foreign and military policy, ignoring the cries from the Left. Today, the thirteen years of Labour government are more denounced than praised by the current Labour leadership as being ‘Red Tory’. Current Labour MPs seem only willing to select the creation of numerous ‘Sure Start centres’ as the main new achievement of the Blair years, and little more.
Under Corbyn, Labour has also reverted to being the natural party of incompetence. Poor organisation and bad messaging is a characteristic of Labour whenever it moves too far leftwards as extremists purge people of ability who disagree with them.
At last year’s party conference, Jeremy Corbyn stated that Labour was organising for a 2017 general election. With the exception of the crisis elections of 1974, every general election for the last half century has been staged in the months of spring, and particularly June. 2017 is no exception to this rule. Labour was caught unawares by Mrs May’s call for a poll, despite the overwhelming historical evidence. Labour may have been organising for a 2017 election, but apparently at a time of Labour’s choosing. They were out of touch with the realities of political power.
The Greens are the natural party of closet communists who are ashamed or afraid of their own feelings. They hide behind the cultural fear of apocalypse to promote communism on the sly. There is no difference between the economic policies of the openly communist parties and the Greens. Caroline Lucas’s party hoodwinks the gullible using their irrational fears to trick their way into power. But then intimidation and cheating are standard political practices of the hard Left who believe the ends justifies the means, however disgusting those means may be.
The SNP are the natural party of imagined grievance. They misuse nationalist sentiment as a form of bigoted ideology in a manner disturbingly similar to nationalist parties on the continent. Their supporters believe there is no limit to the abuse they may level against reasonable disagreement. It is unusual that while the British National Party or an English nationalist party would be regarded as beyond the pale, that what may be described as Caledonian fascism forms a part of mainstream British politics with little demur by commentators.
So, what of the Liberal Democrats? Tim Farron’s party harbours an inconvenient truth that they are unwilling to share with the electorate, when it actually may be their path to power.
The Liberal Democrats are the natural party of coalition. This has been their role for over a century.
The creation of universal male suffrage in 1918 marked the end of the Liberals as a potential party of government. Their last prime minister was actually the head of a coalition. It is ironic that a democratic policy introduced by the Liberals spelt their doom. The laudable notion of extending the franchise to nearly all adults introduced the divisive politics of class warfare to British politics as socialists based their policy on the politics of hate.
Since 1918, Liberals have only been in government as the junior partner as the two-party system evolved to edge them out of power. In 1931, this was as part of a Conservative-dominated National government created to manage a destabilising global economic crisis. In 1940, it was as part of Churchill’s government of national unity facing the forces of fascism. In 2010, Nick Clegg took his party into partnership with David Cameron at time of international crisis, an act for which this talented man still deserves high reward.
The Liberals have also propped up Labour in power on three occasions, and were propped up by Labour themselves. There was an electoral pact in 1903 where Labour and the Liberals stood aside in various seats to keep the Conservatives out of power. They were on hand to help Ramsay MacDonald lead Labour to power for the first time in 1924. They also supported a minority Labour government in 1929. In 1977 there was the Lib-Lab pact, where David Steel kept James Callaghan in power as his slim majority disappeared due to by-election defeats by a public disgusted with a union-dominated puppet government running the country.
To gain power, Tim Farron would have to see 317 new Liberal Democrat MPs elected to augment the 9 he already has. This is the basis on which his party releases its manifesto.
However, the historical evidence indicates that if Farron were to enter government, it would be as a junior partner on some form of coalition. The rational course of action for Farron would be to issue a compound manifesto, stating those ‘red-line’ policies over which he will not shift were he to join the government.
Honesty in politics is a sometimes in short supply. The Liberal Democrats package themselves as the ‘nice party’, an image that has failed for a century to secure them undisputed power. It is time for them to be honest about their party by acknowledging their heritage.
The Liberal Democrats have a place in a two-party system, which is to prop up the government of the day when it falls short of a majority and to use moderation to control the ambitions of extremists. On this basis they should issue a manifesto, or perhaps manifestos, outlining their policies in coalition with either Labour or the Conservatives. If they base their policies on when they will do if they gain 317 seats, they are behaving like fantasists.