In 2010, before the election, Nick Clegg warned of 'Greek-style' strife on the streets of Britain if any Government pushed through policies that people did not vote for. Remember? Let's face it, nobody voted for 'coalition' policies in the end did they? But so it came to pass that UK austerity measures were passed and, suddenly, to question these was to be childish and unreasonable. Austerity politics was the grown up way of doing politics. TINA and all that. Now's there's another name in the political circles and it's Syriza.
I read this article today in Libdemvoice and pondered upon how far Lib Dems have come since 2010. With all respect to Joe Otten, the PPC for Sheffield Central, I really hope his attitude does not sum up the next 100 days of Lib Dem electioneering because it misses a huge point about the hardships that people have suffered under austerity cuts. I think this is where Syriza is relevant. Syriza was voted by people who used words like 'hopeful', 'a society that feels a little bit fairer' and 'give us the sense that they care' and 'we feel unprotected right now'. Syriza recognised that there was a void of humanity in politics and dares to challenge the forces that foisted the so called grown up politics of cuts.
This is where I think Lib Dems can learn from them. As the coalition draws to an end it is crucial to recognise that no matter how many times we tell people that Lib Dems prevented the Tories from veering too far to the right many won't believe it because many have suffered as a result of the Neoliberal hegemony that our party bought into in coalition. Sometimes I hear a Lib Dem speak and I wonder why he/she didn't join the Tory party. Talking about being King Makers again just makes Lib Dems sound like a party that will go into coalition with anyone for the sake of power. What happened to our liberal values? I think Nick Clegg is great but why is the party being positioned just as emergency air bags to stop the Tory party or Labour party crashing? I don't get it.
Syriza is full of risk-takers who have tapped into people's feelings. Podemos could be the next victor in Spain. Politics has just moved onto a whole new level and Lib Dems cannot be left behind. I am trying to say that we need to offer real hope to young people, sick people, disabled people, impoverished people, the unemployed and the lowly paid.