Gordon Brown’s gaffe today in calling an old woman a bigot for her opinions on Eastern Europeans belies bigger problems for a party now faced with becoming obsolete.The rise of the Liberal Democrats, through leader Nick Clegg’s masterful performances in the country’s first televised debates, is putting pressure on a Labour Party which has been considered the only other since the 1920s.
Then, the Liberal Party lost its opposition place due to a rise in the upstart Labour Party, which better represented the country’s growing electorate after World War I.
Now, the Liberal Democrats are making moves in the polls, either in the lead or right behind the Conservatives. Their supporters are growing, and many are coming from the country’s middle ground, where Labour has claimed dominance since the rise of Tony Blair in the late 1990s.
In the event of a coalition government, the Liberal Democrats may choose to work with the Conservatives leaving Labour outside government for the first time since 1997.
But the party would also require the Conservatives to change rules on how MPs are voted for, potentially making the system proportionally representative. In a new election, which could be called as early as the fall, the Liberal Democrats could win a majority or even place second, with Labour falling to third.
Labour then wouldn’t even be chief opposition party, and could face a series of high profile defections to the Liberal Democrats.
It has happened before…
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