They deserve obliteration

September 29, 2011

In his letter last week ("Blame, a zero-sum game", 22 September), Matthew Huntbach writes: "As a left-leaning Lib Dem, I hate what this government is doing, but as a democrat I have to accept its legitimacy: it is what enough people voted for in the May 2010 general election and in the May 2011 referendum." But the public did not vote for this coalition, and this is why the government has no legitimacy.

Before the 2010 general election, the Lib Dems promised not to put up tuition fees if they were elected - but once in power they did just that. Justifying this behaviour shortly after the coalition was formed, former university lecturer Vince Cable said that the Lib Dems had made one set of promises to the voters before the election but another set of promises to the Conservatives after it, and it was the second set of promises they were obliged to keep.

But this argument is based on the assumption that the Lib Dems had to form a coalition with the Tories. They could have allowed the Conservatives to form a minority government, joined the opposition with Labour, voted against everything that the Tories proposed that they and Labour combined did not agree with, and thereby forced a second election late last year or early this year instead of the referendum. There were two elections in 1950-51 and in 1974, so there was no reason why we could not have done the same in 2010-11. The Lib Dems might then have formed a coalition with Labour and made radical electoral reform a priority.

As far as the referendum was concerned, I (along with many others, I suspect) would have voted "yes" on the general issue of electoral reform - with some sort of constitutional committee being created to decide what form this should take - but was not in favour of the alternative vote. By restricting the issue to AV alone, the Tories managed to get a lot of people who were in favour of reform to vote against it (probably their intention all along) and the Lib Dems got nothing. Presumably this is all the Tories were prepared to agree to during the coalition negotiations - but again the Lib Dems did not have to go along with this.

I don't want the Lib Dems to be decimated at the next election because that would not be enough for me. I want them to be wiped out as a political force, especially in those seats with large university populations on which so many Lib Dem MPs rely.

If this were to happen, it would only be what they deserve.

Ken Smith, Bucks New University

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