With Labour moving left and the Tories turning right, there ought to be room in the centre of British politics. Yet the Liberal Democrats are struggling to appear relevantOne side-effect of the ideological mania gripping the Conservatives is to put a retrospective gloss on the 2010-15 coalition government. There is not much to cherish in the legacy of the administration that set Britain on an ill-judged course of austerity. But the unleashing of a more fanatical rightwing Tory impulse since 2015 testifies, in hindsight, to the restraining, if limited, influence of the Liberal Democrats in government. That isn’t much use to Vince Cable, a coalition cabinet minister three years ago, now leading a party parked on the margins. A reconfiguration of British politics – with Jeremy Corbyn’s Labour moving leftward and a radical rightwing Tory agenda – ought, perhaps, to leave room for a third-way English party. Yet the Lib Dems haven’t expanded into the space. Their desultory performance has many causes. To protest against New Labour governments from a liberal-left position, only to then join forces with the Conservatives, was too violent a lurch for many of the party’s natural supporters.
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