In 1972, the former Home Office minister Dick Taverne was deselected by the Lincoln Constituency Labour Party for being too pro-European. (The party had been out of office since June 1970, and parts of it had drifted as far to the unreal left as others would later move to the amoral right.) Taverne resigned, stood as an independent ‘Democratic Labour’ candidate and won a smashing victory. He now sits on the Liberal Democrat benches in the House of Lords.
With the coalition closing down hospital wards, refuge centres, public libraries, lavatories and employment, the Liberal Democrats have suffered a reversal in Barnsley which may be called historic – near total desertion by their former voters. There are plenty of Liberal Democrats, including MPs, for whom accepting the Osborne budget and cuts is a bitter reversal of a lifetime conviction. There will be yet others for whom career death is a prospect to be got out of sharpish. Meanwhile, active dislike of Nick Clegg, getter of the party into this fine mess in sleek pursuit of the career beautiful, is so much spilt petrol waiting for its match. Time, surely, for one member at least to step down and stand as an Independent Liberal Democrat.