On Friday evening Danny Alexander appeared on Channel 4 news offering somewhat of an apology and policy u-turn on behalf of the Liberal Democrats for what was one of the most unpopular policies of the coalition government, the Bedroom Tax. Alexander stopped slightly short of an all out apology but said that those who have not been offered alternative accommodation for them and their families should not loose money by having their Housing Benefit cut.
One can’t help feel a bit sorry for Danny Alexander. From the off set he has been the face of the coalition who has been used to deliver the most unpopular policies that this government have introduced over the last 4 years. He was the one who explained, among other things, how difficult a decision it was to start stripping disabled people their dignity and deny them vital monies they need to live and maintain whatever independence they had.
We are clearly witnessing the start of divisions developing between the two coalition partners. The Liberal Democrats ministers in particular, will try to distance themselves, and their party, from the Conservatives and some of most unpopular policies that have been implemented over the last 4 years. The coming months will inevitably see the two coalition parties trying to establish their own identities again and distance themselves from each other. It remains to be seen just how many policy turns and how hypocritical the Liberal Democrats will be prepared to be in order to salvage what little dignity they have left.
On their watch, the Liberal Democrats have stood by and supported the Conservatives while some of the poorest and most vulnerable members of our society have come under attack like never before. Thousands of disabled people have lost vital monies they rely on to live independent lives while other who are chronically ill have suffered the indignity at the hand of ATOS who have found them to be ‘fit for work’.
As well as the unemployed who have been attacked and spoken about in the most degrading way, those who are in work have also suffered horrifying indignity and hands of this coalition government. Hard working families on lower incomes have been striped of their tax credit while at the same time VAT has been increased. Cuts in childcare services as well as greater financial strain on families has left thousands relying on food banks to make ends meet. All of these policies introduced by the coalition have eroded the living standards of hundreds of thousands of the poorest people in the community.
None of these policies could have been put through this government without the support of the Liberal Democrats. They had choice whether or not to support the conservatives, or whether to stand for and protect the livelihoods of the poor and marginalized in society. In February of this year the Labour Party tabled a motion to scrap the Bedroom TAX, but the Liberal Democrats again chose to support the conservatives and stand by it.
The choices they have made over the last 4 years ought not be forgotten, no matter how many apologies and policy u-turns the Liberal Democrats make between now and next May. No matter how many times Danny Alexander, or anybody from the Liberal Democrats, announces a withdrawal of support for another unpopular policy, it must be remembered that without their support it could not have been introduced in the first place. It is hoped that every apology or u-turn that they do make will help etch in the minds of voters, between now and next May, the cut in living standards and the indignities now faced by hundreds of thousands of poeople.