Yesterday, a rather desperate canvasser came knocking on my door in the outskirts of London. My Labour poster had obviously not done enough to deter this beleaguered emissary of the former Business Secretary, Vince Cable. In fact, it seems that showing my colours may actually have acted as something of a magnet to the Lib Dems. Just a day or two before, I’d had a leaflet spinning the rather unlikely story that The Daily Mirror was advising me to vote for Cable. I’d also had a letter from the Cabinet Minister telling me how much he understood my desire to get rid of the Tories.
Today, Labour and Green supporters in this leafy suburban constituency may be wondering if they did the right thing. They’ll see that Dr Tania Matthias – a GP in the NHS, who must surely need treatment for the cognitive dissonance associated with supporting the Conservatives – has swept Dr Cable aside.
As we pick up the pieces the morning after the night before, it’s quite natural to ask whether we perhaps should have voted tactically and saved Cable’s skin. My answer is a categorical no.
I’ve always been impressed with my dealings with the guy at a personal level. He is incredibly bright and has a razor-sharp memory for detail. On a couple of occasions, he stepped in to help with quite difficult issues and made representations on our behalf. I couldn’t fault his work as a constituency MP.
At the 2010 election, however, he told Labour voters to support him to keep the Tories out in Twickenham – a call echoed by his colleagues in other local seats such as Kingston & Surbiton and Sutton & Cheam. Many natural Labour supporters gritted their teeth and did what they were told. Cable then jumped into the bed with the very Tories he had denounced.
Five years go by. Five years in which the use of food banks has increased hugely, while the public has been fed a dubious diet of austerity. And then Cable has the nerve – the barefaced and unashamed cheek – to come back to me and say I should vote for him because he’s the only man who can beat the Tories.
I may be desperate, but I’m not signing up to join the cast of the Muppets. Cable is a bright man, but he insults the intelligence of his constituents with his opportunism and lack of principle. The Liberal Democrats have been utterly decimated in the 2015 general election, but they have only themselves to blame.