On page 270 of "22 Days in May" David Laws attributes the success of the coalition negotiations with the Conservatives rather than Labour to: "...a growing emphasis on the (Liberal Democrat) party's liberal roots, not least on economic policy, (which) was expressed in the influential Orange Book...( which he) edited....Although the Orange Book provoked a strong backlash from small c 'conservative' Lib Dem activists , it helped to shift the centre of gravity in the party..."
Nice one, David. So Tony Greaves, Michael Meadowcroft, the late Maggie Clay and thousands of others who have toiled for years, many originally inspired by the great Jo Grimond, are all conservatives now, whilst you have the true inheritance.
Laws makes no bones about it.On page 271 he writes: "Out went higher taxes and in came tax cuts for those on low incomes. Out went a commitment to a higher top rate tax of 50%, in came a closing of unfair tax reliefs. Out went 'tax and spend' and in came 'save to invest.'...Out went a defence of all state run services and in came privatisation in areas such as the Royal Mail. Out went opposition to all provider reform in the NHS and education , and in came policies such as support for sponsor managed schools."
The inference that traditional Liberals uncritically defended "all state run services" is a re-writing of history that would do credit to the Kremlin. I shudder to think of the hours Liberals and Liberal Democrats higher up the hierarchy than I have spent in devising policies to reform, decentralise and democratise our public services.
It is unfortunate that, just as the party has achieved a small share in national power, this right wing economic tendency is in the ascendancy. Of course, Orange Bookers (who include Nick Clegg, Chris Huhne, Ed Davey and Steve Webb) could claim that our share in power is a result of this shift to the right. Others (now dubbed small c 'conservative' Lib Dems,) might argue that our current achievement is the result of Liberals' and Liberal Democrats' tenacity over half a century, the failure of the Labour party to make meaningful social, constitutional and economic reforms in spite of 13 years with massive majorities, and distrust of the Tory alternative.
As the economic crash post 2007 has so brutally exposed the inadequacy of deregulated and market orientated economics, it is time for we heirs of the party of Keynes and Beveridge to "fight, fight and fight again to save the party we love."
So to inspire us with the right spirit, here's some words of Lloyd George, quoted in today's Guardian as a contrast to Nick Clegg's somewhat timid request that the banks be "sensitive" in paying out their bonuses:
"No country however rich can permanently afford to have quartered upon its revenue a class which declines to do the duty which it was called upon to perform...I say their day of reckoning is at hand."
Up and at-em, says I