The Lib Dems are painfully waking up to the practical reality of government. They are been torn asunder from their beloved policies, and fail to see what politics is. It cannot be ‘my party, right or wrong’, it cannot be ‘our policies, no matter what’, it cannot be rhetoric; it must be pragmatism. Politics is about translation. Politicians need to translate ideals and vision into reality. If ideals are not put in practice in such a way that they benefit people, they are but rhetoric.
All political parties have lost vision and ideals, but kept the empty rhetoric. They are wedded to pathetic policies and no understanding of solutions. All political parties have policies that should not get aired, let alone reach a manifesto and, God forbid, actually be implemented. This is why nobody got elected. They failed to grab the country’s imagination. The Coalition’s ‘New Politics’ was a good start, a beginning of trying to see things differently, an attempt at vision.
Now politics needs to start on all benches. The Tories need to see that some of their policies are half-baked ideas (they don’t seem to have thought much about the Big Society, for example); Labour need to be constructive, not petty; and the Lib Dems need to stop being a punch bag and develop a vision of their role in government.
If I were Nick Clegg, I would apologise to my MPs. They’ve been going through a lot of change and taken a lot of criticism. They have never been in that position before. They never had to really detach themselves from their rhetoric and question their sacred cows. Labour took its time before being able to ditch its sacred cows and follow the lead of Tony Blair. It is undoubtedly a painful process, especially for those who so closely identify themselves with the party. Clegg needs to ‘feel the pain’ and lead his crew to shed the old certainties that give comfort and take up the challenge of being real. As Winston Churchill once said:
"Sometimes doing your best is not good enough. Sometimes you must do what is required."