In 2004, a group of Liberal Democrats published a book they titled The Orange Book: Reclaiming Liberalism. The purpose behind the book was to try and take the Lib Dems towards the centre-right; to make them appear more Tory than the Tories. The book, edited by David Laws and Paul Marshall was distributed widely among the membership. It is worth mentioning that those Lib Dem faces who have been summoned to the cabinet table by Cameron are all members of the Orange Book Club. It is also worth remembering that the Lib Dems are formed from two parties: the old Liberal Party and the Social Democratic Party who split from Labour in 1981.
The Orange Book stresses their desire to see the free market take more of a role in society. If any of this sounds familiar, it should. These are roughly the same ideas that float around in the minds of free-market Tory types like Alan Duncan and William Hague. These ideas were current in Thatcher’s thinking and were often framed in terms of ‘freedom’. In other words, there can be no freedom unless it it through the Conservative Party. Now the Tories have able allies in the Lib Dem Orange Book Club, so we can expect more rubbish about notions of ‘freedom’.
The best that we can hope for is for the more SDP-minded members of the Lib Dems to defect to Labour. A few deaths should cause a few by-elections. This coalition cannot last.