It’s the Lib Dems’ 30th birthday! But sadly for them, they’re not the most popular of parties. According to PollBase, when founded they sat at 12 percent in the polls, and are now at just 7 percent. Most politicians offer them placid compassion – a nod to their efforts, but acknowledgement of their continued troubles.
After 30 years, you might wonder – what use do they have? Yet the Lib Dems remain a necessary alternative to Labour and the Conservatives. They are a refuge for voters disillusioned by the two main parties who do not wish to cast their vote for more radical options such as UKIP or the Greens.
In addition, their presence makes tactical voting possible. Instead of voting Labour in a constituency they are extremely unlikely to win, you can vote against, let’s say, the Conservatives, by voting for the Lib Dems. There is also a more important reason for why the Lib Dems are useful. They are not just political cannon fodder or a centrist alternative. Rather, owing to how small they are they can propose policies Labour and the Conservatives cannot.
Along with other small parties, the Lib Dems tackle issues more popular parties daren’t address. They pushed for House of Lords reform, and scuppered proposed boundary changes when the Conservatives abandoned the Lords reform they desired. Of course, whether or not you agree with the outcome, another small party successful in not only asking a question but also leading it to a political end was UKIP with their effective Brexit agenda.
For the Lib Dems it’s a 30th birthday to forget. However, although weak, the party remains an important addition to Britain’s political landscape. We shouldn’t dismiss smaller parties. They might not be overly popular, but they are both useful and necessary