I was expecting the LibDems to get a shoeing, but I wasn't expecting them to be taken out the back and kicked to within an inch of their lives. I find I'm asking myself the question where do the LibDems go from here? This is a disaster of such magnitude for the party that it is difficult to know where to begin.
Clegg is done, of that there can be no doubt, he had his five minutes in the sun during the TV debates, but it soon clouded over. Chris Huhne has run the most appalling campaign for the yes vote, more of which in a moment, Vince Cable shot his bolt with his quite remarkable declaration of war on Murdoch. Who on earth is capable of stepping up to replace Clegg when the inevitable happens?
The LibDems have conjured up a perfect storm and make no mistake, it is all their own fault, no-one has stabbed themselves in the back here, they've committed ritual suicide infront of an entire nation. They've pulled off a master stroke by being able to alienate their own core support and the support of the non-member voters - they have utterly destroyed their powerbase which was always at the grass roots level.
I think most people who voted LibDem did so because of what they were not, rather than what they were. The most important thing they were not was either of the other two. Then the coalition came and the terrible truth dawned on the public; the LibDems were as grasping, power hungry, unprincipled and opportunistic as Labour and the Conservatives ever were. I said it at the time, the moment they entered into that coalition they had loaded the gun and pressed it to their own temple.
Now they are stuck. They daren't pull out as the Tories would most likely go to the polls, and their destruction would be complete. They have no cards to play, they are completely reliant on their Tory masters for their oxygen, from where I'm sitting it isn't the LibDem MPs keeping a coalition government breathing, it is a Tory party with the power of life and death over their junior, subordinate partners keeping the party breathing. I wonder how long it will be before the Tories start kidding on that they'll pull the plug?
Most of the non-members who voted LibDem did so because they couldn't stomach the other two, and they've now found that they've got exactly what they didn't want.
As for the members, the crushing defeat for the yes campaign is a slap in the face which must sting as much as the results in the locals, Scottish and Welsh polls. The LibDems have been banging on forever about PR, it is the thing their members seemed to desire most, once you factor in the understanding that they'd never get a majority under FPTP in a million years. That was the single biggest thing the LibDems had to bargain with, what their team settled for was the palest of facsimilies that very few people would have backed, it was a complete betrayal of their membership and showed that Clegg and pals would turn their back on their members in an instant for a go on the levers of power. That go on the levers, which cost the goodwill of the membership and the floating voters, has lasted not even a year from the announcement of coalition.
It is a collapse of stunning proportions.
So who are the winners here? Obviously in Scotland it is the SNP, although if they hold a referendum on independence, which they might, at that referendum is defeated, which it will be, one can only ask what the SNP are for, other than not being Labour?
South of the border Labour have made gains, but to be fair they couldn't have lost any more. The votes and seats they've picked up are the least Miliband could have wanted, and the collapse in Scotland shows in England that it is a parade of people from red to blue, blue to red, and so forth. People are voting against what they don't want, rather than what they do, ironically PR could go some way to solving this, but the LibDems caved in. Cheers, Nick.
No, Labour are no winners here.
A couple of months ago I commented that the LibDems were done, and also pointed out that the BBC were at pains not to tell us who the winners were in that by-election. Over the last couple of days we've heard nothing from them at all. They certainly weren't standing in my ward, I don't think they put many candidates up at the local level, although they did have candidates on the regional lists in Jockland.
Who? UKIP, that's who.
This a party that declares itself to be libertarian. Not libertarian enough to satisfy me, but a damn sight more libertarian than any of the other established parties. They are very attractive to frustrated EUro-sceptic Tories, desptie their proclaimed libertariansim, and I'm wondering if the libby tag might prove appealing to the liberal side of the LibDems, despite the obvious anti-EU bias contrasting with the slavish pro-EU stance of the LibDems. But that's just the members.
The public, the floating voters, those who have been using the LibDems as an effective 'none of the above' or 'screw the reds and the blues' vote will now put the LibDems squarely on the same ground as the other two. So when election time comes around again, whether it is the Euros or an early general, who will the floaters be looking at thinking 'I don't want to vote for those three, but who have I heard of?'
I know as the days tick by since the Anna Raccoon - Andrew Withers affair, it's now been almost a month without any word from the investigation, that I find myself looking at UKIP with increased warmth, better to be a libertarian component of a functioning party than an exclusively libertarian party which does not function.
UKIP, (and probably the Greens who I can see harvesting a good portion of the Social Democrat side of the LibDems) are probably sitting down feeling quite pleased this evening.