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Thursday, September 19, 2013 

We all know what happens to people who stand in the middle etc.

To get a sense of the current flights of fancy afflicting some Lib Dems, you only need to see Ed Davey worrying about how the party might need to introduce all-women shortlists after 2015 to increase their miserable number of female MPs. You might have thought they should be more concerned about the number of MPs they'll have in total after the election, but such is the apparent belief that regardless of how bleak the polls look, everything will be all right on the night.

After all, this time round it won't be the other party leaders agreeing with Nick, it'll be him agreeing with him.  Or so went the feeble joke in his truly dismal keynote speech, Nick agreeing that Dave only cares about the rich while Ed is too irresponsible to be trusted with the economy.  Just as Danny Alexander seems to have found an interesting electoral strategy in saying that the Tories couldn't have kept the economy stagnating for three years without them, so it seems Clegg has decided that the voters will come streaming back if he realigns his party as being the ultimate moderating factor.  They'll be dead centre on the political spectrum, preventing Labour from going too far to the left and the Tories to the right!  Why, just look at what they've stopped the Tories from doing so far!

To give them some credit, Clegg's list of 16 policies they've halted isn't entirely without merit.  His putting his foot down probably has meant the Human Rights Act still exists, that Michael Gove hasn't got entirely his own way as education secretary, although frankly the damage is fairly devastating as it is, and Liz Truss hasn't managed to turn the nation's playgroups into the Ayn Rand School for Tots.  It's that what they've gone along with has been far worse: the axing of the 50p top rate of tax, which the party this week endorsed; the outrageous waste of time and money which was the reorganisation of the NHS; the bedroom tax (or spare room subsidy, as only the government calls it) where 50% of those affected are now in arrears; the scraping of the Future Jobs Fund and the support for the spectacularly useless Work programme as its replacement; and most grievous of all, the backing to the hilt of George Osborne's austerity plan, which will now not end until 2018 at the earliest.  Tim Farron, the party's chairman and supposed conscience even has the gall to claim that the recovery wouldn't be happening if it wasn't for them.

Having abandoned all the positions that made them different to the Tories and Labour, most recently deciding that our "independent nuclear deterrent" is worth keeping after all, just with one less submarine to help cut costs and salve previously troubled minds, all Clegg's left to argue is that his party isn't quite as bad as the other two and this is exactly why it deserves to stay in government.  It seems to work, just about, with the Lib Dem faithful, much as telling people how fantastic they are and how brilliant the stuff they've achieved is does in the short term.  As for everyone else, you can't help but think the party is going to soon get an extremely rude awakening.

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