The Liberal Democrats faced a stormy Spring Conference. Activists were vocal in their antipathy to the health bill and wished to see the legislation withdrawn. They also wished to ram through the 'mansion tax': a tax on property over certain values, and a dealbreaker with the Tories. The collectivist base: a party rooted in the producer interests of public sector professionals, proved as reactionary as their Labour counterparts.
Since their entry into the Coalition, the Liberal Democrat activist base has shrunk and moved to the Left. Faced with electoral defeat, they are shouting at a higher octave on the values and policies that they belive people wish to hear. But they cannot square the circle between public services and tax: playing the envy card has not worked either.
The more that the Tory leadership provides Clegg with figleafs; the more will be demanded by the Liberal Democrat activist base. A fear of electoral defeat outweighs coalition needs and encourages this irresponsibility. Since the cycle of feeding cannot continue indefinitely, will a new dynamic sustain Coalition politics? Or will a leftist Liberal Democrat purge split the party between 'Yellow Tories' and 'Real Labour'?
Right now, the Liberal Democrats seem to be Labour as they used to be....