Bedroom tax defeat: too little, too late for Nick Clegg?
On Friday 5th September, the Liberal Democrat-led Affordable Housing Bill was passed, essentially overturning the widely unpopular Conservative Bedroom Tax Policy. With the 2015 general election looming over the heads of party leaders, the Affordable Housing Bill was supposed to be the perfect opportunity for Clegg to distance himself from the coalition and re-establish the Liberal Democrat presence on the British political stage.
But will Nick Clegg’s stand against his Tory counterparts actually make a difference? Doubtful, tends to be the public’s opinion, if the polls are to be believed.
The fact that the Lib Dems have seemingly U-turned on their own ideology regarding the Bedroom tax appears to have done them few favours in the eyes of the electorate. Whilst Clegg may have planned for the Lib Dems to appear heroic in his self-sacrificing stance against the government, which he helped to create, it has instead looked more like a bid to hang onto power by siding with Labour, who remain leading in the polls, however slightly.
Unfortunately for Clegg, he has a long way to go in winning back public favour, after raising university tuition fees despite protestations to the contrary. Whether it was necessary or not, Clegg’s promise not to raise tuition fees was the cornerstone of his electoral campaign. By not putting up a public fight with Cameron on the issue, he was always in danger of digging himself a rather large political hole in the process.
The polls make painful reading for the Lib Dems, who only have 7% support. And after a disastrous run in recent local elections, it seems unlikely that they will recover for some time to come. So while it may be admirable for Clegg to try and not go without a fight, public opinion would suggest that he may have started the fight too late.