Liberal Democrats or Fib Dems or Lieberal Un-Democrats or Orange Book Nutters or Lying Hypocritical Treacherous Tory Bastards or Conservatives used to be an option on UK electoral ballots. It has recently been lead by Nick Clegg, Tim Farron, Vince Cable and now Jo Swinson.
The Liberal Democrats used to be the "none of the above" party, created to offer voters in Britain an extra choice after they decided neither the Conservative Party or Labour Party was for them. Now that 'none of the above' category has been opened out to British National Party,UKIP, the Green Party and a weird guy with a bucket on his head and the Official Monster Raving Loony Party.
Despite the party's long relegation to life in an electoral waste paper basket, in the British General election of 2010, voters in Great Britain were allowed to watch this party's leader Nick Clegg be allowed out for the day and stand in a television studio with David Cameron for the Conservative Party and Prime Minister Gordon Brown for the Labour Party. When put together with a a toff and a tosser, Clegg looked almost normal. Little did we know!
Thanks to recent exposure in the newspapers and media, the British public now knows at least three Liberal Democrats. Besides Nick Clegg, there is now Vince 'Foggy' Cable and Jeremy 'Paddy Pantsdown' Ashdown. Older voters remember 'Menzies as Ming the Clueless in his battles again Gordon 'Flash' Brown in old 1930s film serials. For other Liberals the humiliation about explaining who they are and why they breathe is said to have reduced the former party leader Charles Kennedy (a Scottish representative of the famous Kennedy family) to a drinker and Lembit Opik, the sexual plaything of talentless pop stars from Romania.
But then, in a moment of political clarity, the Liberal Democrats saw their vote slide away to UKIP, the Green party and their parliamentary representation reduced to Nick Clegg's rump and seven dwarfs. Now the Liberal Democrats are on the Endangered Political Movements list and not expected to make till 2020 without resorting to selective breeding or living in a zoo.
History and Rationale
The "Liberal Democrat" option was first included on UK ballots only as late as 1988 after they emerged from a controlled mating experience with the Social Democratic Party, a political splinter off the solid plywood of the Labour Party. Before this, the Liberal Democrats were part of a collective of bearded nudist vegetarians; people who dye their own clothes and heroin flavored jam at jumble sales. They usually went by the name of Liberal Party and had once been one of the major political organisations in the Great Britain. However in the 1920s the Liberal party had become politically irrelevant when they had allowed themselves to be consumed with over active libidos and had chased the voters away with their rampant, organic immorality on public benches. Times eventually changed and in the 1960s to be 'Liberal' became fashionable once again before the economic crisis in the 1970s forced everyone to put their trousers back on and take responsibility. It was get away from that image that the Liberal Democrats were created.
The new Liberal Democrat party's emergence coincided with the widespread political disillusionment that met the last years of the Thatcher , Britain's best Prime Minister since Winston Churchill and possessed the biggest breasts since Harold Wilson. The Labour party was led by Neil Kinnock, a red haired and short-tempered Welshman and spoke so much; he could have inflated a fleet of hot air balloons.
In contrast two these two, the new Liberal Democrat leader was Paddy 'Pantsdown' Ashdown, an ex-military man who had gone softy liberal after a career as a British secret agent. The Liberal Democrats hoped that having a man who once had the 'license to kill and go to bed with women of his choice' would give their party a 'macho liberal' image. Ashdown took this a bit too far when he was caught banging his secretary whilst the wife was away and got him the name 'Paddy Pantsdown'. This should have been the end of him but in Britain, Liberal politicians who can't keep it zipped up are almost expected to be to card-carrying philanderers.
What's In A Name?
As the UK electoral system does not allow for a "none of the above" option to be placed on ballots as a default, the creation of the "Liberal Democrat" selection was originally intended as an option to allow for an individual voter to express his contempt for the other options, but without spoiling his ballot paper; in Britain, at least, like so many other things, ballot-spoiling is considered downright rude. However, in modern times, the Liberal Democrats have quickly evolved into a humanoid species. Contrary, to the Conservative Party who have ceased to believe in... Well anything, The Liberal Democrats agree with everything, anyone or everyone says, unless of course, you didn't like what they said, in which case, they agree as well.
The name to appear on the ballots was chosen only after a painstaking process of trial and error. After a shock electoral collapse in 1929 on the short-lived Starve The Poor ticket, the party's remaining six members decided to choose a name which would better disguise any future political bias. This removed from consideration traditional choices such as "none of the above": the previous year, an Irish Catholic and nationalist candidate, The Nun of the Above (otherwise known as The Nolan Sisters), had won several thousand votes in a hotly-contested by-election.
Thus, a name was chosen that would avoid offense, whilst also avoiding entirely the issue of political ideology: very few politicians in the UK would claim to be actively illiberal, and even fewer would claim to be undemocratic.
Failure, Success and then More Failure
The merging of the old Liberals and Social Democrats (minus their leader David Owen and a few Drink Hards), didn't lead to immediate success. In the 1989 European Union elections, the Liberal Democrats were beaten into fourth place by a stick of celery to their flabby progressive bottoms by the Green Party. However the Greens couldn't keep their wind power machines working properly and the Liberal Democrats managed to recover, especially when Paddy Ashdown appeared in the pages of Playgirl magazine with just a yellow rosette covering his well oiled, military hardened manhood. This certainly got him noticed by the flirting voters who started to support the Liberal Democrats in the hope they could meet up with strangers and have sex without hang ups.
In the British General election of 1992, despite the sexual inducements, the Liberal Democrats barely won 20 odd seats. However five years later this was turned in 46 MPs and by 2010 there 57 of them. Opponents accused the Liberal Democrats of losing their sense of fun and that the only reason why the party hadn't been crushed by the Conservatives and Labour party was they thought the Liberal Democrats were a useful band of idiots who could be persuaded to join a Government, any government if they were guaranteed bums on cabinet seats, the keys to the drinks cabinet and a list of discreet website addresses they could go for some rampant political discourse with interesting voters.
If you mean increased number of votes, more Members of Parliament and that people know what a Liberal Democrat is, then we can safely say that it has all been illusion. Since Paddy Pantsdown (now Lord Pantsdown), the Liberal Democrats have been lead by the late Scottish tippler (Charles Kennedy, deceased), an Auld Scot (Menzies Campbell) and finally a squirt faced shiny-faced greenhouse arsonist, Sir Nicholas 'Nick' Annoying-Clegg. He bonded with the equally shiny faced Conservative David Cameron and the two men created Britain's Coalition Government in 2012.
By not being 'outed' as Conservatives in disguise, the Liberal Democrat party has been a keen supporter of the Labour party of Tony Blair and Gordon Brown. However, like a girl wearing horn rimmed spectacles, the loutish Labour party has kept the Yellow Peril (the Liberal's flag of choice) at bay and out of really important jobs. During the 2010 election, the Liberal Democrats were expected to be once again reduced to a joke party, just minus the jumping dog, clown costumes and mad organ music. However the British voters decided that having being governed by fake comedians for the last thirteen years (or fifty), it was time to give the levers of power to the real deal. For the first time since Winston Churchill had waved his whisky bottle to the British people, the Liberals were back in office with their new Tory bed companions.Lloyd George would have been proud!
Since the Liberal Democrats (and before them the Liberal Party) had been deliberately kept away from power, which was like hiding the box of matches from an irresponsible arsonist, they were able to come up with a hat full of mad ideas, which they knew they had no chance of implementing. This had lead to the adoption of policies like a master plan to "improve" railways by digging up every line in the country to replace it with a busway. They will also allow anyone who recycles their rubbish a license to confiscate cars belonging to those who don't. The Liberal Democrats also believes in polysexualism and will encourage everyone to change sex at least once a year. This will be promoted under the agenda of Multisexual Identity, following the Kinsey Report that deep down, humans are really just hamsters in sharp suits.
For the Liberal Democrats their main problem is trying to sound different from the other major two parties in Britain. They had the idea of appealing to people's better instincts, which was a fine message except in practice that never works. If the Conservatives could work with their standard message of Greedy Bastardism and Labour could appeal to Working Class Lobotomy, the Liberal Democrats have to tailor their policies for supporters who could range from student layabouts, food fetishists and hedgehog huggers to those who were quite clearly certifiable. For the Labour party which views these people as their own too, the Liberal Democrats exist only to "split the left's vote". This is confusing to many for several reasons:
a) Many Liberal Democrat Voters do not know right from left. b) Many Liberal Democrat Voters cannot do the splits. c) Any Labour voters questioned just get angry and shout about 1983. d) Any Conservative voters questioned just cackle and run back to their mansions for "servant" beating sessions and orgies between publicly-schooled students and their cocaine soaked teachers.
Liberal Democrats in political satire
Given the status of the Liberal Democrats as a pseudo-party, several satirical publications have attempted to embody the position of the party in a series of fictional "politicians". One such fictional figure, now widely used, is that of "Sir Menzies": in keeping with the apolitical and indecisive nature of the average "Liberal Democrat" voter, Menzies is most commonly portrayed as an aged white man, with limited political influence, prone to stuttering over even the simplest of questions at Prime Minister's Question Time. Many mispronounce the name "Menzies" on purpose but still the public are unaware of the nature of the party.
Previous to Sir Menzies a more comical figure was elected as party leader. Charles Kennedy was the most unlikely of politicians, whereas Sir Menzies could pass for an older William Hague, Kennedy was more reminiscent of a TV Presenter. The media even alluded to this fact by nicknaming him Chat Show Charlie. Kennedy even presented shows such as Have I got News for You before joining the Lib Dems. Even when intoxicated the public were slow to catch onto the truth and when they eventually did, after 4 years, it was time to change leaders.
During this election, in which Sir Menzies was the eventual winner, a series of smokescreens were put in place by independents Simon Hughes and Mark Oaten with an aim of hiding the fact that the party has no MPs. They even found a fourth candidate following an interview process for tea boys. But then everyone discovered Menzies looked like someone's seedy uncle when on television and within a couple of years he was gone to, to be replaced by the strangulated voiced Nick Clegg.
If a typical voter experiences back pain, a slipped disk or any other spinal-related issue, rather than seeing a chiropractor or other medical attention, they may simple vote Liberal Democrat. All spine issues will disappear, due to the lack of one. This also works for other ailments such as testicular cancer, mental issues or dignity.
Record in government
As mentioned, the Liberal Democrats became part of the 2010 David Cameron government. It was an alliance with a hungry blue wolf and yellow lamb - guess who won out? The Liberal Democrats shredded all their policies for a chance to ride around in chauffeur-driven cars and appear at international gatherings as a co-equal with the Conservatives. End result - loss of seats, elections, trousers (for some Lib Dem MPs), prison for one cabinet minister and reduced to a standing joke.
The electorate decided that after giving 'Nick a go' - the boy and his party were worse than useless and rewarded them with a thorough trouncing in the May 2015 General election. They lost 48 sets out of 56. The party was back to the minibus years.
Clegg remained an MP but nearly everyone else he was working with has lost their job and are now looking forward to zero hour contracts in case anyone wants a spare Lib Dem to be used. Door stop, a stepping stone or car jack comes to mind. The party elected a saint as their next leader - Timothy Farron.
In 2017 the Liberal Democrats added breasts to their line up with the election of four women as MPs. Clegg lost his seat and trousers to a Labour challenger who later turned out to be a troll. Without any clues what to do, the Liberal Democrats tore of Vince Cable's free bus pass and told him he was on next. The party eventually went for 'youth+woman' and elected Jo Swinson.
If they have one it will be as stuffed exhibits in Madame Tussauds Chamber of Failures.