Liberal Democrats where shown a real U-turn yesterday as the British public rejected both, the AV referendum and their local councillors.
The Alternative Vote was knocked off the scene with over two thirds of voters opposing it, while the Lib Dems lost almost 700 seats in English councils alone.
In contrast, Labour won 800 seats in England while the SNP was the big winner in Scotland.
Leader of the Liberal Democrat society at Kingston University, Jason Alecock, said his party had been mis-represented and become the “scapegoat” in the coalition.
He said: “Of course this election result is extremely devastating for the Lib Dems, but it really doesn’t come as a surprise. The Conservatives and the media have been successful in making the Lib Dems the scapegoat for all the poor decisions the government has made.”
On AV he said: “I am very disappointed that the British public didn’t vote in favour of AV and I feel our next chance at a reform may not come for a generation.”
The damaging outcome could be directly related to the tuition fee controversy earlier this year in which the Lib Dems were seen to be betraying the public by breaking their pre-election pledge to abolish tuition fees.
Dr Andy Higginbottom, principal lecturer in International Politics and Human Rights, said: “I suspect that very few of the students who voted for the Lib Dems on the tuition fees promise will ever vote for them again. The Lib Dems urge electoral reform, but what the Lib Dem MPs did in breaking their pre-election pledge shows the very worst of the current system. MPs who break the very promises they were elected on should be immediately recalled.”
Before Friday’s result there was widespread speculation about what impact a blow to Nick Clegg in both, the local elections and the referendum, would have on the Coalition.
While this is still uncertain, Nick Clegg yesterday talked of having suffered a “real knock” and the need for the party to move on and forward: “In politics, as in life, sometimes you get these big ups and downs and we have taken a real knock last night and we will need to learn the lessons from what we heard on the doorstep. But we need to get up, dust ourselves down and move on because we have a big job to do.”
Luke Hilton Pierce, of KU’s Conservative Society, said: “It is disappointing that the Lib Dems have done so badly, however we do not think that this will affect the workings of the coalition in any significant way.
“We also regret that the Lib Dems have taken so much flak for the decisions of the coalition, however we do want to support our coalition colleagues and I’m sure the government wants to get back on with their jobs now the AV issue is over.”