The Liberal Democrat's Betrayal

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Ben Cohen
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John Hari outlines deputy Prime Minister Nick Clegg's mind boggling betrayal of virtually everything he once stood for:

Clegg is one of the great mysteries of British politics. Before the election, he told us "there isn't a serious economist in the world who agrees with the Conservatives... [that] we should pull the rug out from under the economy with immediate spending cuts." Now he is one of the leading champions of doing exactly that. In just a few days after the election, he cleared a space in his swanky new ministerial offices and staged a bonfire of his principles.

Whatever you think of these policies, how can anybody defend Clegg gathering the votes of millions of people on a clear mandate of opposing these Conservative proposals, and then -- as soon as the door of his ministerial limo swings open -- championing each one of them?

As Clegg predicted pre-election, the massive cuts now being enacted by his government will not work, and he will have shot himself and his party in the foot. While he may have fulfilled his ambition of making the Liberal Democrats relevant, his complete reversal on everything his party stood for will in the long term severely damage its standing in British politics. Lib Dem voters must pray for a massive backlash against Clegg and hope there is a movement to try and remove him before he consigns his party to irrelevancy for good. Because as Hari notes:

Remember: David Cameron got 36 percent of the vote in Britain, and even that was on a promise that "we're not talking about swingeing cuts." Some 60 percent of us voted for parties to his left. We could see the Britain he wanted to build -- just this week, our leading center for sick children, Great Ormond Street Hospital, discovered it is facing a 20 percent cut in its budget -- and we rejected it decisively.

So instead of a real coalition government, Britain has got the Tories and Tory lite - a dangerous combination that will have lasting consequences for the country.

Thankfully, Ed Miliband seems to be taking Labour in a new direction and carving out a real alternative to the free market libertarianism that now occupies White Hall. Maybe the Lib Dems will see sense and try to partner with Miliband at some point. Because if they don't, there's really no point to them.